Pennsylvania Budget

Third and State This Week: Preserving Tobacco Funds for Health Care, Fasting for PA's Vulnerable and the May Jobs Report

This week, we blogged about the latest job numbers, efforts to preserve tobacco settlement dollars for health care services, paid sick days legislation and more.

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Third and State This Week: Teacher Salaries, Legislative Updates & Paid Sick Leave in Philadelphia

This week at Third and State, we blogged about teacher salaries and a paid sick leave bill in Philadelphia City Council, along with providing legislative updates on efforts to cut unemployment benefits in Pennsylvania and advance a state budget with deep cuts to education and human services.

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Pa. House Approves $27.3 Billion Budget

A blog post from Chris Lilienthal, originally published on Third and State.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted 109-92 Tuesday to approve a state budget that sets spending at $27.3 billion for the 2011-12 fiscal year — the same amount proposed in Governor Tom Corbett's March budget plan.

The budget cuts $1 billion from public schools and reduces Governor Corbett's budget by $471 million for health and human services for women, children and people with disabilities. It fails to enact a drilling tax on natural gas and leaves untouched a $500 million state revenue surplus.

Comparing Pa.'s Marcellus Shale Drilling Tax Plans

According to recent media reports, Pennsylvania state lawmakers believe a Marcellus Shale gas drilling tax will happen one way or another. The big question is just what it will look like.

Several bills, with bipartisan backing, have been introduced in the General Assembly to impose a drilling tax or fee on natural gas production in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has a new report comparing details of the four most prominent plans introduced by Rep. Greg Vitali, Sens. John Yudichak and Ted Erickson, Rep. Kate Harper, and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati.

Here are some of the key findings:

Third and State This Week: The State Budget, Voter ID and CEO Pay

This week, the state budget dominated with the introduction of the House Republican budget. We also weighed in on the cost of a voter ID law and the rules for CEO pay.

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A Detailed Look at the House GOP Budget Plan

The Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus introduced a 2011-12 state budget proposal on May 10 that is consistent with the principles communicated by caucus leaders over the past few months.  It spends only $27.3 billion, the initial spend number proposed by Governor Tom Corbett, and leaves untouched a $506 million accumulated revenue surplus.

The House budget incorporates Governor Tom Corbett’s plan to transfer revenue from the Tobacco Settlement Fund into the General Fund. If Tobacco Settlement Fund dollars are taken out of the equation, the budget spends around $27 billion, well below 2008-09 levels.

As expected, the plan represents a shift in cuts rather than a restoration of programs. This is evident throughout the budget.  For example, the plan restores $20 million of the $23 million cut to the Human Services Development Fund — a source of flexible funding for county human services — but cuts the county child welfare line by $22 million.

Voter ID Law Costly to Taxpayers

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering legislation that would require every citizen to present photo identification as a condition for voting in primary and general elections.

Many recently enacted voter ID laws have been subject to legal challenges, and states considering such laws are being proactive about including safeguards that eliminate impediments to a citizen's constitutional right to vote. But it doesn't come without cost.

In a recent policy brief, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center applied the experiences of other states with voter ID laws to estimate the cost of implementing such a law in the Commonwealth. In order to meet the requirements set forth in the legislation and avoid potential litigation, PBPC estimates the first-year costs for a voter identification program of approximately $11 million.

A Quick Take on House GOP Budget Plan

A blog post from Chris Lilienthal, originally published on Third and State.

Pennsylvania House Republican leaders unveiled a state budget plan today that cuts $470 million in health and human services for vulnerable Pennsylvanians, while leaving in tact hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to schools, full-day kindergarten, Penn State and other colleges.

The plan would restore some of the deep cuts to education proposed in Governor Corbett's budget blueprint — $387 million to the 18 state-supported colleges and universities and $210 million to public schools.

Third and State This Week: Big Budget Rally, Mexican Trade Deficit & Marcellus Shale Taxes

This week, we weighed in on a debate over the tax payments of drillers in Pennsylvania. We also blogged about the state's revenue surplus, a big rally at the State Capitol and the Pennsylvania jobs toll of a trade deficit with Mexico.

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Revenue Analysis Goes Well Beyond Taxes Paid by Drillers

Sharon Ward, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC), issued the following statement in response to a new analysis of the taxes paid by the natural gas industry from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue:

The Department of Revenue’s new analysis makes an apples to oranges comparison of the taxes paid by companies engaged in natural gas drilling.

It alters the definition of drilling companies from what was reported in the Governor’s budget just two months ago. The definition was expanded to include companies that do not drill at all and would not be subject to a drilling tax, such as pipeline operators and suppliers of sand used in the fracking process. It also counts taxes paid by individuals and customers as taxes paid by the industry.

Third and State This Week: Zombies, Millionaire Taxes and Gas Drillers

This week, we blogged about New Jersey's millionaire tax, taxes and Marcellus Shale drillers, zombies and much more.

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Natural Gas Drillers Pay Little in Pa. State and Local Taxes

Natural gas drillers claim they have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in Pennsylvania taxes, but data from the state Department of Revenue tell a different story, according to a report released this week by the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.

Of the 783 companies to file corporate net income tax returns in 2008, 85% paid nothing in taxes. Many other drillers, including nine of the top 10 permit holders in the Marcellus Shale, structure their businesses to attract investment capital from individuals who avoid the corporate net income tax altogether and pay the much lower personal income tax.

Even Newt Gingrich Supports a Marcellus Shale Severance Tax in Pennsylvania

Newt GingrichThe Pennsylvania Senate has adjourned for the year without taking up a Marcellus Shale severance tax bill, despite promising to enact the tax in last summer’s state budget agreement.

Since then, a few high-profile Republicans - including former U.S. House Speaker and leading conservative figure Newt Gingrich - have voiced support for enacting the tax.

A Hundred Million Dollars Lost to Legislative Inaction on Severance Tax

Governor Ed Rendell made headlines across the state today with his announcement that efforts to enact a natural gas severance tax are "clearly dead" for the year. Good news for the natural gas industry; bad news for the people of Pennsylvania.

How bad? The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center has been tracking in real-time the amount of severance tax revenue lost since October 1, 2009 by not having a tax in place. This weekend, the Severance Tax Ticker will hit $100 million!

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