One Year and Still Going Strong

Third and State celebrated its one-year anniversary this week. We launched on February 1, 2011, and 350 posts later we're still going strong.

We couldn't do it without our readers, so we thought it would be fun to take a look back at what posts you liked the most. And so we bring you a countdown of the top 10 most viewed blog posts at Third and State.

10. Governor Corbett Unveils 2011-12 Budget Proposal, March 9, 2011:

By taking direct aim at schools and higher education, the Governor’s plan disregards a fundamental principle of economic growth — businesses locate and expand in states with an educated workforce and academic centers of innovation.

There is a better choice. Lawmakers can choose to take a more balanced approach that makes targeted cuts, improves accountability and raises revenue.

9. 2011-12 State Budget Highlights, June 28, 2011:

State legislative leaders and Governor Tom Corbett agreed on a 2011-12 state budget deal this week, and on Tuesday, the state Senate approved it on a 30-20 party-line vote. The bill heads to the House of Representatives next. ...

The biggest cuts, in both dollars and percentages, are in education programs, including PreK-12 and higher education.

8. Marcellus Shale, Unemployment and Industrial Diversity, August 3, 2011:

There is always a danger that Marcellus Shale extraction may crowd out rather than seed new industries. Policymakers in Harrisburg and elected officials in these regions should make efforts to ensure that some of the good economic fortune represented by Marcellus Shale gas is reinvested in the seed corn necessary to increase the economic diversity of these communities. A drilling tax is the most sensible way to generate the funds needed to pay for these investments.

7. What is Pat Toomey Doing? Inequality and America's Future, November 16, 2011:

On a day when a national newspaper is using Philadelphia to illustrate the erosion of the middle class, why is Senator Toomey championing ideas that threaten the most cherished American values (opportunity, democracy) and the country’s future living standards? You’d have to ask him.

6. CEO Pay Soars While Workers’ Pay Stalls, April 6, 2011:

Since there’s been a lot of discussion about public-sector pay recently, it’s interesting to compare these CEO salaries with that of the top-earning public workers in Pennsylvania. According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story in 2009, the top 100 highest-paid state employees in Pennsylvania earned $19.4 million as a group. In other words, the two highest-paid CEOs in Pennsylvania earn a lot more than the top 100 public-sector workers.

5. Fruit Salad, Anyone?, March 14, 2011:

The Governor's speechwriter appears to love apples to pears comparisons, or maybe bananas to oranges. But nothing so plain as apples to apples. ...

In sum, when you do apples-to-apples comparisons, public-sector workers do not earn more than comparable private-sector ones. In addition, Pennsylvania public-sector wages have not risen faster than in the private sector over the last half decade.

4. A $56 million 'Oops': PA Revenue Department Updates Marcellus Shale Tax Estimates, November 23, 2011:

Back in May, the Department estimated that taxable Marcellus Shale royalties generated $102.7 million in PIT collections in 2010. Now the Department says that figure is a tad lower — $46.2 million, a decrease of $56.5 million or over 55% from what was reported six months ago. To quote Britney Spears, "Oops!" ...

The gas industry has been very effective in arguing that it is contributing a "game-changing" number of new jobs and tax revenue, and uses these claims to beat back efforts to enact a meaningful drilling tax. We have made the case for some time that these claims are well overstated. The Department of Revenue data, particularly the paltry PIT numbers for 2010, seem to back up our case.

3. Déjà vu All Over Again: Mid-year Cuts and a Budget Shortfall on Tap for 2012, December 20, 2011:

Secretary Zogby rightly identified areas of built-in growth that will contribute to a structural budget deficit moving forward.

His analysis failed to mention how much tax cuts, both enacted and planned, will contribute to the short- and long-term problem. For example, the administration has likely under-estimated the cost of the 100% bonus depreciation policy enacted in January, contributing to the lower-than-expected corporate tax collections. (This policy allowed corporate taxpayers in 2011 to deduct 100% of a capital expense up front, instead of stretching it out over a period of years.)

The Governor's budget guidance issued earlier this year called for $400 million more in tax cuts, which could contribute to more than half of the expected gap for 2012-13.

2. What's Good for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Isn't So Good For You, March 3, 2011:

All else equal, the Chamber seems to prefer that any given level of job growth go along with lower wages and less human development. This leads you to conclude that the Chamber values lower wages and less human development as simply good things in and of themselves. Kind of like apple pie. Go figure.

And the number 1 top viewed blog post of the year:

Teacher Salaries and the Medieval Bloodletting of the Public Schools, May 23, 2011:

The Teacher Salary Project seeks to educate Americans that this country has relatively low teacher pay compared to the most successful educational systems in the world. That's one reason it's difficult for American schools to retain their most talented teachers, especially in distressed communities. ...

Yet policymakers in Pennsylvania are running hard in the opposite direction. Cuts in public school funding will mean stagnant or lower pay, especially in our poorest districts. More education delivered in charter schools and private schools will mean greater inequality in pay in two senses: a bigger gap, on average, between the charter and private schools serving affluent students and those serving lower-income children; and a bigger gap, again on average, between the pay of school CEOs and principals and the pay of front-line teachers.

When public school performance predictably suffers, any chance this will be used to push privatization of education further? Heh, when the first round of medieval bloodletting doesn’t work, let’s bleed the patient a bit more.

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