Young Philly Politics - Pennsylvania Budget en Pennsylvania Tax Giveaways and an Island in the Sun <p><strong>By Jamar Thrasher, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>A few weeks ago, the Pennsylvania General Assembly fast-tracked <a href="" target="_blank">a bill</a> in the waning days of the legislative session to allow certain private companies to keep most of the state income taxes&nbsp;of new employees. News reports to follow indicated the new tax giveaway was designed to lure California-based software firm Oracle to State College.</p> <p>Well, it turns out the CEO of Oracle, which will benefit from the largess of Pennsylvania taxpayers, recently bought his very own Hawaiian island, as CNN <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> back in June.</p> <p>Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the third richest man in the U.S., purchased about 98% of Lana'i, the sixth largest of the Hawaiian islands. Forbes <a href="" target="_blank">reported</a> that the deal was rumored to be worth $500 million.</p> <p>As CNN tells us:</p> <blockquote><p>The island includes two luxury resorts, two golf courses, two club houses and 88,000 acres of land, according to a document filed with the Public Utilities Commission.</p> </blockquote> <p>Which bring us back to Pennsylvania, where Governor Corbett recently signed House Bill 2626, allowing qualifying companies that create at least 250 new jobs within five years to pocket 95% of the personal income taxes paid by the&nbsp;new employees.&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> corporate welfare economic development Income Inequality Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget State Budgets Tax Giveaways Taxes Thu, 08 Nov 2012 16:02:31 +0000 8546 at Not Exactly a Mahogany-paneled Corporate Boardroom <p><strong>By Kate Atkins, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p><img style="float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" src="" alt="Montgomery County Budget Forum" width="300" />A hundred days after passage of the <a href="" target="_blank">state budget</a>, it is too soon to fully assess the impact of cuts to human services, Montgomery County's administrator for behavioral health and developmental disabilities told a group of 50 consumers&nbsp;and social service providers at a budget forum last week.<br /><br />Still, Administrator Eric Goldstein told the forum at the Norristown Recovery and Education Center that he has concerns&nbsp;about the state's move toward <a href="" target="_blank">block grants for human services funding</a>. Unlike Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties, Montgomery County did not apply to be part of this year’s new pilot block grant for the Human Services Development Fund.<br /><br />Eric Goldstein was joined by speaker after speaker who testified to the importance of the modest dollars invested in prevention and community supports for people struggling with mental illness or substance abuse.</p> <p>One speaker, Troy, a solidly built man with a confident manner and a winning smile, said people call him a “success story,” but he remembered the days when he struggled with drug addiction. He described how he would walk into the Norristown Center and feel a lift from the friendly and familiar faces of the staff, who would ask him how he was doing.</p> <p>“I’m looking for a job,” he would tell them.</p> <p>“Really?” they would reply.</p> <p>“No,” he would admit. “Not really.”</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Developmental Disabilities Human Services Mental Health Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Prevention State Budgets Substance Abuse Treatment Mon, 29 Oct 2012 17:40:00 +0000 8543 at A Rare Victory In The Endless Fight Against Corporate Welfare <p><strong>By Mark Price, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>In a rare victory against corporate welfare in Pennsylvania, Ahold USA has withdrawn its request for property tax breaks for a meat-packaging facility it is building in Lower Allen Township, Cumberland County.</p> <ul> <li>Jim Ryan, <em>Central Penn Business Journal</em> — <a href="" target="_blank">Ahold drops LERTA request for meat-packaging plant</a></li> <li>Monica Von Dobeneck, <em>The Patriot-News</em>&nbsp;—&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Giant Foods owner withdraws request for tax break for its meat repackaging plant in Lower Allen Township</a></li> </ul> <p>As Michael Wood <a href="" target="_blank">explained</a> before the request was withdrawn:</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> corporate welfare economic development Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Tax Giveaways Tax Incentives Taxes Thu, 18 Oct 2012 20:53:53 +0000 8540 at Pa. Budget: Failing to Invest in a Stronger State Economy <p><strong>By Chris Lilienthal, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Despite ending the 2011-12 fiscal year with a $649 million fund balance, Pennsylvania fails to make the investments essential to building a strong economy or to reverse a recent trend where job growth in the commonwealth has lagged behind other states.</p> <p>So concludes the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center <a href="">analysis</a> of the enacted 2012-13 state budget, which was released Friday.</p> <p>In the final budget, the General Assembly restores some of the cuts proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, while leaving intact a 10% cut to human services and deep cuts to public schools and higher education made in 2011. The budget continues to shift costs to local governments and taxpayers, while adding new tax breaks for businesses.</p> <p>The spending plan, at $27.656 billion, is $517 million more than the Governor’s February proposal but remains below budgeted 2008-09 levels, despite four years of recession-driven increases in demand for services. The largest cut in this budget comes from the elimination of the General Assistance Program, which provides a temporary monthly benefit to 68,887 Pennsylvanians who are sick, disabled or escaping an abuser. It ends next month</p> <p>Cuts to education enacted last year, meanwhile, have diminished the quality of instruction in our poorest school districts and resulted in the loss of 14,000 jobs in 2011.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Corporate Tax Breaks economy Education Higher Education Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Wed, 18 Jul 2012 14:36:52 +0000 8515 at PA Starts New Fiscal Year with $400 Million in the Bank <p><strong>By Michael Wood, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>After a less than stellar May, General Fund tax collections bounced back strongly in June — exceeding estimate by $170 million, or 6.5%. This narrowed the 2011-12 revenue shortfall to $163 million, or less than 1% of total estimated collections for the year.</p> <p>As a result, the state ended the year in a much better fiscal situation than projected back in February, when Governor Tom Corbett released his budget plan. Counting the dollars the state had in the bank, Pennsylvania actually started the fiscal year with a $400 million fund balance.</p> <p>The recently enacted budget acknowledged this but only to a point. The Legislature increased General Fund spending in 2012-13 by $655 million from the Governor’s &nbsp;proposal&nbsp;—&nbsp;restoring funding in a number of important areas: higher education, accountability block grants, and half of the 20% cut proposed for county services included in the now-rejected&nbsp;Human Services Development Block Grant. Lawmakers also found funding for another round of business tax breaks.</p> <p>However, June collections indicate more could have been done&nbsp;—&nbsp;for General Assistance recipients, environmental programs, and child care. Lawmakers also passed on setting aside any of the additional revenue in the Rainy Day Fund.</p> <p><a href="">Click here</a>&nbsp;for the Tale of the Tape.</p> <p>The revenue surplus in June was led by corporate tax collections&nbsp;—&nbsp;coming in $180 million higher than the monthly target, or 38%. After falling short of estimates for seven of the first eight months of the fiscal year, corporate taxes ended June with a small surplus of $39 million, or 0.8%.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Corporate Tax Breaks Education Higher Education Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Tue, 10 Jul 2012 20:13:02 +0000 8511 at The Human Cost of Eliminating General Assistance in Pennsylvania <p><strong>By Kate Atkins, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Since the Great Depression, Pennsylvania has had a General Assistance (GA) program — a small cash benefit that serves as a bridge to self-sufficiency for the temporarily disabled and for victims of domestic violence and addicts seeking help to turn their lives around.</p> <p>Since the Great Depression. Until late last month when state lawmakers adopted a new budget.</p> <p>That budget will end Pennsylvania’s modest benefit for 68,000 people, effective August 1. At $205 per month, nobody was getting rich from the program. Here is a sample of who is using General Assistance and why:</p> <p>A <a href="" target="_blank">disabled military veteran </a>in Lancaster County, who applied for General Assistance to get him through until his Social Security disability benefits were approved.</p> <p>A <a href=",0,7327470.story" target="_blank">waitress</a> in her 50s who was diagnosed with breast cancer and used General Assistance when she could not work as she was receiving chemotherapy and radiation treatment. After about nine months, she was able to return to work.</p> <p>Good Samaritans who are caring for children not related to them — perhaps children of a close friend of neighbor. Many of these children are now likely to end up in the foster care system.</p> <p>A very focused group of young women I saw at a recent rally in Delaware County, who chanted:&nbsp;“Pennsylvania, we need GA. We’re in treatment, we need to stay!”</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> General Assistance Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Mon, 09 Jul 2012 20:36:38 +0000 8510 at Piecing Together the PA Budget Framework <p><strong>By Chris Lilienthal, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>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.</p> <p>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.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Robert Swift, <em>Scranton Times-Tribune</em> — <a href="" target="_blank">State budget spending agreement launches other negotiations</a>:</li> </ul> <blockquote><p>A number of GOP House lawmakers want to add more dollars for the mental health and mental disability programs in that mix, said [Rep. Mario] Scavello.<br /><br />A Senate-approved bill restores half of the $168 million spending cut for the human services programs initially proposed by Mr. Corbett. House members would like to restore even more money but have to balance that with cuts elsewhere, he added.<br /><br />Although the statewide association representing county commissioners recently agreed to a two-year phase-in for the block grant, Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-18, Bensalem, chairman of the House Human Services Committee, said he's trying to stop the block grant altogether and substitute a pilot program for several counties instead ...<br /><br />The seven programs considered for a block grant include community mental health and mental disability services, the human services development fund, homeless assistance, child welfare grants, the Behavorial Health Services Initiative and Act 152 drug and alcohol treatment programs.</p> </blockquote><p><a href="">read more</a></p> Education Higher Education Human Services Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Poverty Public Welfare State Budgets Tom Corbett Fri, 22 Jun 2012 21:27:02 +0000 8502 at The Myths Behind Governor Corbett's PA Budget Myths <p><strong>By Sharon Ward, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>Governor Tom Corbett's May 21 newsletter <a href="" target="_blank">offered up responses</a> to five "myths" the administration claims are circulating about his proposed budget for next year. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center examined these myths and the myths behind the myths to give you a clear picture about what is fact and what is fiction in Harrisburg.</p> <p><strong>Governor's Myth #1:</strong> Pennsylvania spends more money building prisons than building schools.&nbsp;</p> <p>We’re not sure where this one came from, but we will give it a whirl.</p> <p><strong>Fact:&nbsp;</strong>The Corbett administration’s budget includes a moratorium on new school construction projections, and NO FUNDING for school district projects in the pipeline.</p> <p><strong>Fact:&nbsp;</strong>If the Governor’s proposed plan for higher education is adopted, Pennsylvania will spend <a href="" target="_blank">twice as much on prisons as it does on colleges</a>. In 2009-10, the state's corrections budget was $1.8 billion and college funding was $1.5 billion. If the Governor had his way, Pennsylvania would spend $1.9 billion on corrections and $980 million on colleges in 2012-13. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Fact:</strong> It costs the state much more to house prisoners than it does to educate a child. In 2011-12, Pennsylvania will house 49,000 inmates at a cost of $35,188 per inmate and spend $9.3 billion to educate 1.8 million students at a cost in state dollars of $5,305 per child.</p> <p><strong>Fact:</strong> It is better to build schools than to build prisons.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Governor's Myth #2:</strong> The reductions in higher education funding will cause universities to raise tuition. &nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> arts Education Higher Education Human Services jobs Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget prisons Public Welfare State Budgets Tom Corbett Mon, 11 Jun 2012 14:49:23 +0000 8487 at Educational Tax Credits Are Often a Bait-and-Switch <p><strong>By Stephen Herzenberg, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>A story in Monday's <em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;<a href=";_r=2&amp;emc=eta1%20" target="_blank">explores</a>&nbsp;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.</p> <p>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.</p> <p>Is this how the scholarships to attend private schools work under Pennsylvania's Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program?</p> <p>Probably: there is no prohibition on EITC scholarships going to students already attending private schools; middle-class families are eligible to receive scholarships (the income limit for a family of four is $84,000); and there is no evidence that even this income limit is enforced. In fact, Pennsylvania's Act 46 of 2005 prohibits the state from requesting from scholarship organizations any information other than the number and amount of scholarships that they give out. I guess we're just supposed to trust the scholarship organizations to self-enforce the income limit.</p> <p><a href="">read more</a></p> Education Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget Private Schools public schools School Vouchers Tax Credits Wed, 23 May 2012 21:22:15 +0000 8402 at Pennsylvania Hunger Games Diet: Cash for Corporations, Cuts for Kids <p><a title="Click for larger version" href=""><img style="float: right; margin-left: 10px;" src="" alt="" width="325" height="243" /></a></p> <p><strong>By Mark Price, <a href="">Third and State</a></strong></p> <p>On Tuesday Marty Moss-Coane, the host of WHYY's Radio Times, moderated a question-and-answer session with Governor Tom Corbett at an event sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The Governor ran wild with analogies.</p> <ul> <li>Bob Fernandez, <em>The Philadelphia Inquirer</em> — <a href="" target="_blank">With protesters nearby, Corbett sticks to message for Phila. Chamber</a>:</li> </ul> <blockquote><p>Corbett repeated a folksy analogy to the business suit-and-tie audience, saying that state revenue amounted to an eight-inch pizza pie before the 2008 financial crisis. Now, he said, it’s a six-inch pie “but with the same mouths to feed.”</p> </blockquote> <ul> <li>Chris Brennan, <em>Philadelphia Daily News</em> — <a href="" target="_blank">Corbett: Open to spending more, but not protesters</a>:</li> </ul> <blockquote><p>Moss-Coane noted near the end of the hour-long conversation that Corbett could hear demonstrators beating drums and chanting slogans outside. What would he say to them, she asked.<br /><br />“I understand that you’re upset because we’ve had to put the state on a diet, for want of a better description,” Corbett said. “I haven’t met anybody who likes to go on diets. It is not easy. It is not what we want to do.”</p> </blockquote><p><a href="">read more</a></p> economy Education Kindergarten Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Budget State Budgets Taxes Tom Corbett Wed, 16 May 2012 21:15:14 +0000 8394 at