Déjà vu All Over Again: Mid-year Cuts and a Budget Shortfall on Tap for 2012

Governor Tom Corbett will announce a new budgetary freeze before the end of the year to help resolve what the administration expects to be a $500 million revenue shortfall, according to Budget Secretary Charles Zogby, who gave the annual mid-year budget briefing on Tuesday. 

Secretary Zogby painted a grim picture, as expected. The current revenue shortfall of $345 million could grow even beyond the $500 million current estimate, according to Zogby, and growth in mandatory spending for pensions, debt service and the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) will contribute to a budget for 2012-13 that is short about $750 million.

The Commonwealth plans to resolve the revenue gap with additional cuts.

Morning Must Reads: Perfectly Legal Forms of Wage Theft and Build Baby Build!

When you tip your server at a restaurant, you probably assume that all of that money goes to the server. If you use a credit card to pay, you would be wrong. 

It is very common for restaurant owners to use a portion of those tips to pay credit card processing fees.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports this morning that Philadelphia City Council has passed a law that stops restaurant owners from stealing from servers in this way. 

Another Corporate Loophole – This Time for Jets

If you buy a car, a truck, or any other vehicle in Pennsylvania, you pay sales tax. But if you are one of the wealthy few in the market for a Learjet or a Gulfstream aircraft, you will be able to purchase it tax free under a bill introduced in the state House of Representatives.

House Bill 1100 would exempt the sale of private and corporate aircraft from the state sales and use tax. At a time when average Pennsylvanians are bearing the brunt of cuts in education and other vital services, the bill effectively creates a $10 million to $14 million annual taxpayer subsidy for individuals who buy airplanes for recreational purposes and for corporations that upgrade jets for executives.

Third and State This Week: No Marcellus Shale Fee in 2011, Extended Unemployment at Risk and PA gets a D

This week, we blogged about a new report on economic development subsidies in Pennsylvania, the economic harm that ending extended unemployment insurance for 281,000 jobless Pennsylvanians will have, and the latest on the debate over enacting a Marcellus Shale drilling fee.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

  • On economic development, Chris Lilienthal shared the results of a national study by Good Jobs First that ranked the 50 states' economic development subsidy programs based on job creation requirements and wage standards for workers at subsidized companies. Pennsylvania came in 40th.  
  • On the Marcellus Shale, Michael Wood blogged about 2011 ending as the last two years have — without a Marcellus Shale drilling tax or fee for Pennsylvania.
  • On unemployment, Sean Brandon laid out the facts supporting the extension of emergency federal unemployment insurance. With the average duration of joblessness among Americans at an all-time high, now is not the time for Congress to turn its backs on the unemployed. 
  • In the Morning Must Reads, Mark Price highlighted news stories discussing the safety issues of Marcellus drilling and the foreclosure crisis in the midstate

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

No Marcellus Shale Fee for 2011

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Another year has nearly come and go, and still Pennsylvania has no Marcellus Shale drilling tax or fee.

To refresh your memory, the state House and Senate seem to be engaged in a game of how low can you go with their competing shale plans.

PA Economic Development Programs Rank 40th on Job Creation, Job Quality Standards

A new national study sizing up hundreds of state-level tax credit, cash grant and other economic development subsidies has some bad news for Pennsylvania.

The commonwealth scored a D and ranked 40th place among the states in the Good Jobs First report, Money for Something: Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs. Some of the five Pennsylvania programs reviewed by researchers lack job creation requirements and wage standards for workers at subsidized companies. None of the programs required companies receiving state tax dollars to provide health benefits to workers in jobs or facilities funded by the subsidy.

Length of Unemployment at All Time High

Sean Brandon, InternBy Sean Brandon, Intern

While the U.S. unemployment rate fell to a 32-month low of 8.6% in November, the average duration of joblessness hit an all-time high — 40.9 weeks. This number has more than doubled since the start of the Great Recession in December 2007. Nevertheless, it should come as no surprise amid lingering unemployment. There are four job seekers for every job opening these days.

Morning Must Reads: Marcellus Shale Gas Pipes and Leases

This morning, The Philadelphia Inquirer published the second in a four-part series on safety issues surrounding natural gas pipelines.

Morning Must Reads: A Foreclosure Crisis In Homes Near You

The Harrisburg Patriot News ran a story on Sunday carefully detailing the extent of the foreclosure crisis here in the midstate; it is well worth a read.

Nationally, about 8 percent of homeowners are delinquent, not counting people already in foreclosure.

Third and State This Week: Corporate Tax Avoidance, Insurance Rate Review and Prevailing Wage

This week, we blogged about a new report on state tax avoidance by some of the largest U.S. corporations, how to really save money on public construction projects, and legislation that undermines the state’s ability to review most health insurance rate hikes.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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