Third and State This Week: State of the Union, Loopholes and Price of Service Cuts

This week, we blogged about the President's State of the Union address, new legislation to address corporate tax loopholes and a new series examining the price of cuts to state services in Pennsylvania.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the State of the Union, Mark Price offered a preview before the President's speech and a recap of his favorite parts the next day.
  • On state budget and tax policy, Chris Lilienthal wrote that legislation proposed by Representatives Dave Reed and Eugene DePasquale would take a first step towards closing corporate tax loopholes in Pennsylvania, but more needed to be done. Chris also highlighted the first and second installments of a new series from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center featuring stories of Pennsylvanians impacted by five years of state service cuts.
  • And in other Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price compared and contrasted executives and teachers, and highlighted a proposal to strengthen both the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Price of Service Cuts: Fewer Places to Turn for Victims of Domestic Violence

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is telling the stories of Pennsylvanians impacted by five years of state service cuts in a new series called the Price of Service Cuts.

In today's installment, we take a look at funding cuts to services that help victims of domestic violence.

Morning Must Reads: EITC Awareness, New Economic Geography and Stigmatizing The Hungry

Today is Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) awareness day! 

EITC, the Earned Income Tax Credit, sometimes called EIC is a tax credit to help you keep more of what you earned. Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.

Since we are on the topic of the EITC, today is a good day to highlight a proposal to strengthen both the minimum wage and the earned income tax credit so that they are more effective tools for reducing poverty.

Paying the Price of Service Cuts

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center launched a new series today featuring stories of Pennsylvanians impacted by five years of state service cuts.

The first installment looks at the demise of the Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP) after it was cut deeply in the 2011-12 budget and how it nearly cost a Western Pennsylvania woman her home. Check out the full story below and keep up with all the stories in the coming days and weeks at our Facebook page.

Morning Must Reads: Compare and Contrast: Executives and Teachers

The New York Times this morning has yet another story that is sure to dominate public conversation over the next week or so. Read it or else!

Tax Loophole Bill a First Step, More Needs to Be Done

Pennsylvania Representatives Dave Reed and Eugene DePasquale rolled out legislation today that would take a first step towards closing corporate tax loopholes in Pennsylvania.

Corporate tax loopholes have been a problem for a long time in Pennsylvania. They don’t create jobs but do drain needed resources from good schools, health care and infrastructure.

Morning Must Reads: SOTU 2012: Community Colleges, Workforce Development, Taxes & Infrastructure

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a pretty good summary of the State of the Union.

Here is the full text of the President's speech, and Wonkblog has a version of the speech with only what they define as specific policy proposals.

What follows are our favorites from the speech.

Morning Must Reads: State of The Union, Stimulus and Austerity Economics PA Style

Tonight President Obama will deliver his State of the Union Address to Congress. We are expecting the President to recommend an extension through the end of 2012 of extended unemployment insurance benefits and the payroll tax credit. It looks as though a major theme in the address — besides the catch phrase “built to last” — will be conventional policies aimed at reducing inequality, such as increased spending/tax credits for education and training.

Education and training are important and fruitful means of reducing inequality, but they fall well short of what's needed to reduce the degree of inequality we now face.  A more forceful step in the direction of reducing inequality would include raising the minimum wage and making it easier for workers to form and join unions. We don't expect to hear the President call for either of those changes.

The President will propose paying for his new initiatives with higher taxes on wealthy households. As with education and training, restoring some sense of fairness to the tax code is a laudable goal but longer-lasting reductions in inequality will only come from policies that allow the pre-tax wages of more Americans to rise as the size and wealth of our economy grows.

Third and State This Week: PA Jobs Report, Revenue Outlook and Kids Denied Health Care

This week, we blogged about the state's revenue picture, Pennsylvania's December jobs report, a new report on the cost of interest rate swaps, and the termination of public health insurance for 88,000 Pennsylvania kids.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the state budget and the economy, Michael Wood shared his analysis of the state's revenue picture midway through the 2011-12 Fiscal Year. And Mark Price highlighted some of the key takeaways from a conference hosted this week by the Independent Fiscal Office on Pennsylvania's economic and revenue outlook.
  • On jobs and unemployment, Mark Price provided his analysis of the December Pennsylvania jobs report and what the outlook is for 2012.
  • On financial matters, Sharon Ward blogged about a new report from the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center documenting the hundreds of millions of dollars that interest rate swap deals negotiated with Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and other banks have cost the City and School District of Philadelphia. Chris Lilienthal highlighted some of the media coverage of the report.
  • On health care, Mark Price shared a report from The Philadelphia Inquirer that Pennsylvania has terminated public health coverage for 88,000 kids since August. Mark also linked to a news report on the resignation of a Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare adviser.

More blog posts next week. Keep us bookmarked and join the conversation!

Pa. Revenue Mixed, as Governor Prepares 2012-13 Budget

Pennsylvania's revenue picture remains mixed as Governor Tom Corbett prepares to roll out his 2012-13 state budget proposal in a few weeks.

Pennsylvania continues to see an increase in collections over last year, but revenues trail Corbett administration estimates so far this year. That has prompted the administration to announce midyear budget freezes this month and could impact the budget plan the Governor will present in early February.

Weak corporate collections are taking a toll, and it appears likely that Pennsylvania will end the year with a revenue shortfall, despite solid growth from 2010-11. Still, the revenue picture, in the short term, may not be as dire as that painted by the Corbett administration. The state is carrying a half a billion dollars in reserve that more than covers the current shortfall.

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has a full analysis of the revenue numbers at the midpoint of the 2011-12 Fiscal Year.

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