Pennsylvania often falls near the bottom of state rankings – for instance, 47th in job growth and 48th in funding for public higher education per capita. So, at first blush, it might seem like good news this week that the commonwealth came in sixth place for something. Unfortunately, it’s in a ranking of how unfair states’ tax systems are.
This week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $1.66 billion property tax "circuit breaker" as part of his 2015-16 budget. The New York plan would provide a state tax credit to offset local property taxes when they exceed 6% of a family's income. Homeowners with annual family income up to $250,000 and renters with annual family income up to $150,000 would be eligible for the credit.
At the Keystone Research Center, we closed the office last week except for Friday, Jan. 2, giving our team an extra three days of well-deserved vacation along with the New Year's Day holiday. So we had a one-day work week.
Truth be told, I still came to the office on Monday and then worked at home much of the rest of the week.
Still, the quality of life that resulted from only "having" to come to the office on Friday provided a nice hint of what a world of shorter work time might feel like.
As we close in on the end of 2014, here's our suggestion for a New Year's Resolution PA lawmakers should make along with losing weight and spending more time with the family: increasing the Pennsylvania minimum wage.
As detailed in our end-of year press release, 20 states and the District of Columbia will raise their minimum wages tomorrow but Pennsylvania will not.
The Great Recession may be over but many in Pennsylvania are still suffering from its effects. This is most obvious in our public schools where the number of students who qualify for free- or reduced-priced lunches, a poverty measure, is disturbingly high. Almost half of all public school students qualified for the lunch program in 2013-14. When we look at these students and their school districts we find:
Pennsylvania would benefit from switching from its current impact fee to a severance tax. Depending on the estimate, the severance tax could raise two to four times as much revenue as we expect from the impact fee, with this difference growing over time.
Budget Secretary Charles Zogby confirmed today during his final mid-year budget briefing that Pennsylvania will face a $2 billion budget gap next year. After balancing the 2014-15 spending plan with one-time resources, Secretary Zogby acknowledged that crafting a 2015-16 budget will be difficult for the next administration. This sentiment echoes what the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO), bond-rating agencies, and others (including we here at PBPC) have been saying for months.