The Update: What’s Happening in Harrisburg and DC – February 8 , 2022


Governor Wolf released his budget this week, and now we enter what we at KRC/PBPC affectionately call “Budget Season.” We will see a lot of what we always see in the coverage of the governor’s budget, including that it will be summarily rejected by the legislative majority and the back and forth over that dynamic. However, there is something new this year to talk about—a budget surplus after an economically devastating pandemic that can be used to help the people of Pennsylvania come back stronger.

Our goal as an organization is to focus on what is in the best interest of Pennsylvanians. Take a look at our analysis below where we present ways to restore our education system and support workers and small businesses.

Thank you for supporting our work,

Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director


PA Budget and Policy Center Statement on Governor Wolf’s 2022-2023 Executive Budget

Marc Stier | Budget Analysis | 02/08/2022

Most news reports from Harrisburg today will start by saying that Governor Wolf presented the final budget of his administration, one in which he put forward proposals that continue to reflect the priorities he has held since becoming governor. What those reports may leave out, however, is a critical part of the story: this budget is also the last chance for a Republican majority that has mostly rejected the governor’s priorities to act on them. And they should do so not only because every poll shows that the majority of Pennsylvanians support them but because the future of our children and our commonwealth depends on following the path the governor has set out for us—to provide adequate and equitable funding for education at all levels, to make it possible for workers to receive the training they need to benefit themselves and potential employers, and to fully fund human services, especially for children. Read more.  Watch the post-budget analysis press conference.

PA Is Flush with Cash and It’s Time to Use It

Diana Polson | Blog | 02/04/2022We head into this year’s budget season with one difference from last year: Pennsylvania is flush with cash. What will we do with this opportunity?

We are heading into budget week when Governor Wolf proposes the final budget of his administration. For the last 11 years, we have started budget week talking about the “structural deficit” standing in the way of the state adopting bold new initiatives without raising new revenues. That did not stop Governor Wolf from proposing such initiatives, but the Republicans rejected almost all of them. And they papered over deficits created by deep cuts in corporate taxes with budget gimmicks and one-year revenues.

This year is different. Our state is flush with cash. Let’s take a look at Pennsylvania’s financial outlook as we look towards the fiscal year 2022/23. Read more.

On the Legislative Reapportionment Commission Maps

Marc Stier | Press Release | 02/04/2022Pennsylvanians will be more fairly represented because the Legislative Reapportionment Commission (LRC) took important steps to adopt maps that are fairer than any time in recent memory.

These maps look very different from the current ones because they aim to adjust for dramatic population changes over the last ten years and to remedy two decades of extreme gerrymandering.

Because they do so, both maps are fairer and more representative of the people of Pennsylvania than the old ones. The people should pick their representatives, not the other way around. As a result, we expect that we will get better policy and elected officials will be more responsive to their constituents than to special interests and extreme partisanship.

Read more.

Catch Marc Stier on the PCN call-in show tomorrow. PCN Call-In, Wed., Feb. 9 at 7:00 PM: Steve Bloom, vice president of the Commonwealth Foundation, and Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget & Policy Center, will join us to discuss Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal. Call in with your questions or comments LIVE to 1-877 PA6-5001. The PCN call-in program airs Wednesday, February 9, at 7 PM. Click here for more details.




Wolf Raises Minimum Wage for Commonwealth Workers | 1/28/22

“In the lead up to his budget address proposal, Gov. Wolf began making the case for his new proposal to increase the Pennsylvania minimum wage to $15 per hour—using estimates of its impacts and who benefits generated by Keystone Research Center economist Claire Kovach. This story is rife with Claire’s estimates as well as acknowledging KRC near the end, in the quote ‘Rural workers stand to gain the most from raising the minimum wage. The highest percentage of workers who would get a raise with a $15 minimum wage are in 29 rural counties, according to findings from the Keystone Research Center.’”

State leaders react to Gov. Wolf’s $1.7 billion pandemic recovery plan

Fox43 | 2/2/22

“‘We are 45th in terms of state funding in the entire country, and we have some of the most unequally funded schools in the state,’ explained Marc Stier, the director of PA Budget & Policy Center.”
“Marc Stier stood with House and Senate Democrats in calling for a $3.5 billion plan for Pennsylvania schools.”
“‘If you compare how much they’re lacking in schools that are fairly prosperous and schools where a lot of people are living in poverty, the difference is about 10-1,’ he said.”

Trump failed fossil fuel-reliant communities — Build Back Better invests in them

The Hill | Opinion | 2/6/22

“The hard work and sacrifices of fossil fuel communities power America’s economic prosperity and benefits regions often far away from the extractive centers. That same hard work and tenacity energize their efforts to rebuild their economies. The Coalfield Development Inc. has incubated social enterprises in construction, agriculture, and solar installation, African American farmers are building on their knowledge and heritage to nurture regenerative agriculture.”

“In 2019, Reimagine Appalachia, a group of grassroots organizations (labor, environment and civic groups), spelled out steps to build an inclusive economy anchored in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and conservation. The United Mine Workers of America’s 2021 energy transitions initiative called for government investments that can help spur job creation with living wages, including renewable energy jobs. and that direct investments into coal communities.”

Report: PA Scholarship Tax Credit Lacks Transparency

1230 WBVP/WMBA 1460 Beaver County | 2/7/22

“Susan Spicka, executive director of the group Education Voters of Pennsylvania, argued it is time for the law to change.”

“’It is really extraordinary that there are lawmakers in Harrisburg who claim to be fiscal conservatives, and who claim to be looking out for taxpayers, who support a program that has zero accountability for how over a billion dollars in tax money has been spent over the years on these scholarships,’ Spicka remarked.”