The Update: What’s Important in Harrisburg and DC – August 10, 2021


Recovery from the economic consequences will take a long time, and we need to get the policy solutions right to make it work. Take a look below for our recommendations for housing, small business, and other areas.

In Solidarity,


Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director



There’s No Place Like Home: Avoiding a Wave of Evictions in Pittsburgh as Moratoriums End

Even before the pandemic, as we documented in our December 2020 report, many Pittsburgh renters struggled to make ends meet. Nearly half of Pittsburgh renters were “cost-burdened,” meaning they paid 30% or more of their income in rent. A higher share of the region’s Black renters and other renters of color were more cost-burdened than white renters. For cost-burdened renters, an economic disruption, such as a job loss, can result in falling behind on the rent, raising the risk of eviction. Data on applications for rental assistance from Allegheny County show that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on poor, Black, and female-headed households. Fifty-eight percent of rental assistance applicants are Black despite making up just 13% of the county’s population and 71% of applicants are women.

Pandemic housing policy responses, including eviction moratoriums and rental relief programs, aimed to keep people in their homes during the crisis. This paper examines the impact of these policies and looks forward to how Pittsburgh and Allegheny County can keep people in their homes as eviction moratoriums end.

Read more.




PBPC Commends President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Schumer, and Bipartisan Negotiators for Advancing Legislation that Makes Vital Investments in Infrastructure, Jobs

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center today commended President Joe Biden, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and the bipartisan Senate working group for negotiating and advancing legislation to make historic and desperately needed investments in the nation’s infrastructure. The infrastructure package will create good-paying union jobs that will put Pennsylvanians to work across the commonwealth, revitalizing our roads, bridges, airports, and public transit systems and modernizing our water, power, and broadband networks.

Read more.


Small Businesses and Workers Need Help From the State—And Each Other

By Marc Stier

The failure of the Republican-written budget to help restaurants, entertainment venues, and small shops of all kinds is utterly hypocritical. For most of a year, the Republican leadership of the General Assembly attacked Governor Wolf’s emergency orders on the ground that the orders hurt small businesses—even though the real cause of distress was the pandemic itself. Yet they left Harrisburg for their summer vacation without lifting a finger for small businesses and for working people.

Helping working people and helping businesses go together.

Read more.


PA Republican Logic: Reject The Needs of Pennsylvanians and Democracy As Well

By Marc Stier

Flush with $10 billion in $7.3 billion in federal funds and a $3-billion, current-year surplus—all of which comes from our taxes—the Republican majority enacted a budget that neither provides much relief from the pandemic nor includes public investments to reduce our state’s glaring economic and racial inequity.

And while ignoring those problems, the Republican majority passed legislation to make voting more difficult.

The inaction on the budget and the actions that were taken to make it harder for people to vote are connected.

Read more.




Save the Date – Give Day 2021 – Aug. 17-18

We are delighted to announce we will be hosting our second, virtual Give Day, a 24-hour CELEBRATION of progressive policy in Pennsylvania, from Tuesday, August 17 at 7 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18.

We are pleased to honor Eric Elliott, PSEA Staff Organization, for his dedicated service to the Keystone Research Center and the labor movement.

Mark your calendars for 24 hours of learning, fun, and activism, and support all of our work!




On the Pa. school funding lawsuit: Don’t change the subject | Opinion

PA Capital Star | By Marc Stier and Eugene Henninger-Voss

“The conservative Commonwealth Foundation, a Harrisburg think-tank, has called the funding lawsuit misguided. But its analysis doesn’t address the critical question of the gap between what schools spend and what they should spend according to adequacy standards written into state law. Instead, it changes the subject and presents data about other questions, tangentially related to the fundamental question at hand.”


Casey’s Civilian Conservation Corps Could Help Fight Climate Change

Public News Service

“Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center, said he thinks a new CCC could be a national opportunity for life-sustaining and meaningful jobs.

‘These are really important jobs; people would be on the front lines of climate response,’ he said. ‘If we get a CCC, I can guarantee you that you’re going to have members of Congress from both parties that are going to be doing ‘show-and-tells’ in their districts where the good work of the CCC is going on again.'”


Small School Funding Gains—Big Missed Opportunity

Southwest CDC Globe Times

“The Pa Schools Work Campaign releases a statement heralding these changes. ‘This budget’s increased investment in public schools does not come close to backfilling the increase in mandated costs to school districts over the last two years, much less the needed investments to offset continued inadequacies in state funding.

‘Like pennies from heaven, budget negotiators had an almost magical opportunity to shatter the systemic inequities plaguing PA school districts – a rare opportunity to get ahead of rapidly increasing mandated costs, which could have caused a seismic shift in the future of Pennsylvania’s economy, stemmed rising local property taxes, and increased student success; yet they passed up that opportunity.'”


Allegheny County could face housing crisis after federal eviction ban ends, organization offers help

11 News – Pittsburgh

“On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Budget and Policy Center outlined new data on the housing crisis and what’s being done to address it.

‘This expiration just this past weekend presents a risk for a surge of eviction filings. While Pittsburgh residents continue to be covered by the city moratorium this passage was not reflected in a decrease of eviction filings.'”