Tax Policy

Bridges Need Repair and Little Old Ladies Are Homeless but Have We Done Enough for the Top 1%?

A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at Third and State.

With unemployment in the construction industry at record highs, interest rates low and a deep backlog of thousands of structurally deficient bridges in need of repair, now is a great time to spend money to fix stuff do nothing!

Actually, it is not really that bad; it's worse. The Pennsylvania Legislature is spending time debating changes to the state's prevailing wage statute, even though a large body of empirical research demonstrates that changes to prevailing wage laws do not lower construction costs.  Anyway, if you find yourself in Pittsburgh, make sure your car seat also doubles as a floatation device.

A report to be issued today says the Pittsburgh metropolitan area has the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the U.S. ...

[James Corless, the director of the Washington, D.C.-based Transportation for America, said:] 'These metropolitan-area bridges are most costly and difficult to fix, but they also are the most urgent, because they carry such a large share of the nation's people and goods.'

New York Times on Marcellus Shale: With Growth Comes Problems

A blog post by Sharon Ward, originally published at Third and State.

In a recent article examining the impact of Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania, The New York Times asked me to put the state's tax policy on gas drilling in perspective. I explained that drilling isn't producing the tax revenue needed to address the significant impacts of drilling or to support shared state priorities. Reporting from Montrose, Pa., reporter Kit Seelye writes:

The [Marcellus Shale] gas boom is transforming small towns like this one (population 4,400 and growing) and revitalizing the economy of this once-forgotten stretch of rural northeastern Pennsylvania. The few hotels here have expanded, restaurants are packed and housing rentals have more than doubled ...

But the boom — brought on by an advanced drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking — has brought problems too. While the gas companies have created numerous high-paying drilling jobs, many residents lack the skills for them. Some people’s drinking water has been contaminated. Narrow country roads are crumbling under the weight of heavy trucks. With housing scarce and expensive, more residents are becoming homeless. Local services and infrastructure are strained.

“Very little tax revenue goes to local governments to help them share in the benefits of the economic development,” said Sharon Ward, executive director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, an independent policy research organization.

Proceed with Caution: Tax Freedom Day Overstates Taxes Most Americans Pay

By Sharon Ward

The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation has declared April 13 Tax Freedom Day in Pennsylvania. That's how long the group says it will take Pennsylvanians to pay their 2010 tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels.

Problem is, this report takes a one-size-fits-all approach to all taxpayers - one that fits Bill Gates and Sam Walton a lot better than it fits you, me or most Americans.

By sizing its tax estimate to fit the wealthiest taxpayers, then spreading it out over the rest of us, the Tax Foundation provides a skewed look at how much we actually pay in taxes.

The calculation also relies on estimates that often change once the actual numbers come in and uses a methodology that stacks the deck against wealthy and high energy states.

Not to mention, it neglects to tell you about what you get for your tax dollars - everything from clean water and air to the roads and bridges you drive on every day.

THERE IS NO AVERAGE TAXPAYER:

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