Daily Must Reads: Not Much Change in Local Unemployment Rates

Just as Pennsylvania’s jobless rate stayed stuck at 7.4% last month, most communities across the commonwealth saw little change in their May unemployment rates, according to data released by the state Monday. 

Lawmaker Proposes Pilot Program for County Block Grant

With less than a week to go until the state budget deadline, policymakers in Harrisburg are still at odds over how to fund county services for children, the homeless and people with mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

Governor Tom Corbett is holding firm on his plan to cut funding for a number of county human service programs and roll it all into a new block grant, despite opposition among Republicans and Democrats in the state House.

Daily Must Reads: Budget Cuts HIt General Assistance, County Human Services, Early Childhood Education

With the race to finish the state budget under way in Harrisburg, newspapers are taking a look at the fallout of budget cuts and how they will hurt citizens across Pennsylvania. WHYY's Newsworks reports that the state is getting ready to cut off General Assistance benefits effective next month, but no one is telling the people who will be directly impacted.

Third and State This Week: State Budget Framework, Public-Sector Job Losses and Liquor Privatization Stalls

This week at Third and State, we blogged about the $27.65 billion budget framework announced by the governor and legislative leaders, the stalled debate over liquor privatization in Pennsylvania, how public-sector job losses have hurt the broader economy, teacher layoffs in Reading, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On the state budget, Chris Lilienthal highlighted news reports on the $27.65 billion budget framework announced by Governor Tom Corbett and legislative leaders and followed up with a roundup of news reports as budget details began to emerge.
  • Intern Alan Bowie stepped up this week to write Morning Must Reads:
    • On Monday, he highlighted news stories on teacher layoffs in Reading and reining in the sales tax vendor discount.
    • On Tuesday, he summed up a news report on Washington State's experience with liquor privatization and new estimates putting Pennsylvania's June revenue surplus at $100 million.
    • And on Wednesday, he had a roundup that included a look at how public-sector layoffs are hurting the broader economy and news that debate on a liquor privatization bill stalled in the House and will be pushed to the fall.

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

Morning Must Reads: Piecing Together the Budget Framework

Some details emerged Thursday about the state budget framework unveiled midweek by Governor Tom Corbett and legislative leaders, but questions still remain. More details may be available later today when budget spreadsheets are released.

Funding for county human services is one area that appears to be in flux, as some House Republicans continue to voice concerns about a plan to block grant and cut that funding. 

Morning Must Reads: Governor Corbett, Legislative Leaders Agree on State Budget, Cracker Tax Credit

The big news this morning is that Governor Tom Corbett and state legislative leaders have reached agreement on the framework for a $27.65 billion state budget. The framework was announced after reports of an expected revenue surplus in June of $100 million. (The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center noted last week that the state's revenue outlook has improved significantly in recent months.)

Budget negotiators are keeping mum on the details of the plan until rank-and-file lawmakers can weigh in. The overall budget framework is a step up from the cut-heavy plan the governor unveiled in February. But as The Associated Press reports, it is still likely to include a 10% cut to county human services, the elimination of a modest benefit for temporarily disabled adults who are out of work, and new tax cuts for businesses.

Daily Must Reads: Layoffs in the Public Sector, Jobs at the Cracker Plant and Liquor Privatization Pushed to Fall

The New York Times this morning takes a look at layoffs in the public sector across the country and what they mean for education, law enforcement, and overall unemployment. The story shines a light on recent public-sector layoffs here in Pennsylvania, with a little context provided by our own Mark Price.

Morning Must Reads: Higher Liquor Prices in Washington and a $100 Million June Revenue Surplus

As the debate over privatizing wine and spirit operations in Pennsylvania looms, The Patriot News takes a look at what privatization brought to Washington State — higher liquor prices. Voters approved the privatization of Washington’s state-run liquor stores effective June 1 (beer and wine is already for sale in private retail outlets in the state). The Patriot story is critical reading for Pennsylvania lawmakers considering privatization.

Daily Must Reads: Teacher Layoffs in Reading, Reining in Sales Tax Windfall and More on Payday Lending

While Mark Price takes some time off, I’ll be one of the Third and State bloggers filling in for him with Morning Must Reads. I know, it’s nearly 3:30 p.m., but better late than never.

To start things off, The Huffington Post has a look at what teacher layoffs in Reading mean for students in a city that is home to the largest share of residents living in poverty of any American city.

This Week at Third and State: PA Budget, Immigrant Small Business Owners and Public-Sector Job Losses

This week at Third and State, we blogged about mounting job losses among teachers and other public-sector workers, immigrants contributing to the state's economy as small business owners, House amendments to a state budget bill, the latest Independent Fiscal Office revenue estimate, liquor privatization and more. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On education, jobs and the economy, Chris Lilienthal blogged about a New York Times editorial this week on teacher job losses across the nation and highlighted Pennsylvania's public-sector job losses so far in 2012.
  • On immigration, Mark Price wrote about a new report showing that an increasing share of small business owners in Pennsylvania and the nation are immigrants.
  • On the state budget, Michael Wood shared his overview of House amendments to the budget bill. Mike also blogged about the revenue estimate released this week by the Independent Fiscal Office, showing that Pennsylvania will take in $626 million more in 2011-12 and 2012-13 than the Corbett administration anticipated in February.
  • On privatization, Stephen Herzenberg summed up the Keystone Research Center's analysis of an effort to privatize Pennsylvania's liquor stores, which is likely to have significant negative impacts on the state’s fiscal and public health. Later in the week, Mark Price had an update on the liquor privatization debate, which stalled in the state House but is scheduled to begin again on Monday.
  • On property taxes, Michael Wood blogged about voter rejection of a plan to eliminate property taxes in North Dakota and what that could mean for a similar plan in Pennsylvania.

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

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