Survey Shows More Cuts to Classrooms Are on the Way

As Mark Price blogged Tuesday, school districts across the commonwealth are feeling the pressure of state budget cuts and declining local revenues. Mark's post was based on a new survey of 281 of the state's 500 school districts conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA) and the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO).

The survey offers a glimpse into the tough decisions that many districts are being forced to make as funding disappears. It's not pretty.

Morning Must Reads: State Budget Priorities 101: Education or Business Tax Breaks?

Wednesday brought protests across Pennsylvania over state budget cuts to education. To start things off, here are some of the news clips from demonstrations in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and elsewhere in the state.

Educational Tax Credits Are Often a Bait-and-Switch

A story in Monday's New York Times explores the use of state tax credit programs to pay for "scholarships" for students who attend private schools. The story suggests that many of the students who receive such scholarships already attend private school and are not low-income.

To the extent that this is true, the political marketing of these programs as alternatives (for a select few students) to public schools in distressed communities is a "bait and switch." Educational tax credits actually siphon taxpayer dollars to subsidize private schools, reducing state revenues available for public schools.

Morning Must Reads: Job Creators Love the Prevailing Wage and Predatory Payday Lenders Are Lousy Job Creators

Is the prevailing wage just a battle between business and labor? James Gaffney explains why it isn't in the Harrisburg Patriot-News this morning.

Morning Must Reads: Payday Loans Are Bad For Consumer and School Districts Report Financial Distress

In case you missed it, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a strong editorial Monday against legalizing predatory payday lending in Pennsylvania.

Venture Capitalist: The Middle Class (Not the Wealthy) Are the Engine of Economic Growth

On Friday, Marketplace had an interesting interview with a wealthy venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer who recently gave a TED talk on income inequality that generated some controversy because he made a strong case for raising taxes on wealthy earners. Give a listen to the full interview below.

Here's the takeaway:

Prosperity for people like me is a consequence of the number of customers I have, not the tax rate that I pay. If low taxes were the way that people like me created wealth, then we'd be starting our companies in the Congo or Somalia or Afghanistan, but we're not. We come to places where there are lots and lots of customers...

Third and State This Week: PA Jobs Report, Uncompensated Care Costs at Hospitals & Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths

This week at Third and State, we blogged about Pennsylvania's April jobs numbers and state revenue report, a new report on uncompensated care costs at hospitals in the commonwealth, rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in alcohol control states, and much more.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On jobs and the economy, Mark Price blogged about Pennsylvania’s April jobs report and an effort to undermine the state’s unemployment insurance system.
  • On health care, Chris Lilienthal wrote about a new report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council finding that uncompensated care costs at hospitals rose 11% in 2010-11, the same year the state ended the adultBasic program.
  • On the privatization of alcohol distribution, Mark Price shared a new Keystone Research Center analysis finding that states with tighter control over the sale and distribution of alcohol have lower alcohol-related traffic deaths than states that take a more hands off approach.
  • On state taxes, Michael Wood wrote about the April state revenue report, which marked the third straight month of collections exceeding monthly estimates.
  • And in Morning Must Reads this week, Mark Price highlighted news coverage of an effort to legalize predatory payday lending in Pennsylvania and what that has to do with motor vehicle fatalities among oil and gas workers; stories on Governor Tom Corbett’s question-and-answer session at a Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce event; the Governor’s “Do as I say, not as I do” message to school districts; and the importance of training programs targeted to the needs of employers as the economy recovers.

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

Uncompensated Care Costs Rise at PA Hospitals

More than a year ago, the Corbett administration decided to end the state's adultBasic program, which provided affordable health insurance to about 40,000 low-income Pennsylvanians who were unable to obtain coverage from an employer or through other programs.

We worried at the time that many of those newly uninsured would delay treatments until a health condition snowballed into a more serious and costly problem, sending more people to the emergency rooms of our community hospitals.

Morning Must Reads: PA Job Numbers Out, The War On Unemployment Insurance, and Inequality

Happy Sunny Friday, people! Now for the not so good news. The job numbers for Pennsylvania came out Thursday, and the overall picture was somewhat disappointing. The unemployment rate edged down slightly to 7.4% and nonfarm payrolls declined by 600 jobs.

The Dreaded Omitted Variable Bias Red Card

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Most people would expect that states like Pennsylvania that more tightly control alcohol sales would have fewer of the social problems associated with excessive drinking, including alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities.

So you can imagine our surprise when analysis by economists John Pulito and Antony Davies reached the very opposite conclusion. Their work was published by self-avowed “free market” think tanks, including Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

The Pulito-Davies findings are at odds with those of a panel of public health experts who recently studied the effects of privatization of retail alcohol distribution. Based on a systematic review of the available research, the panel found that privatization contributes to increases in alcohol consumption, creating a greater risk of alcohol abuse and its associated social costs.

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