The Update: What’s Happening in Harrisburg and DC

The state’s unemployment rate also fell to 5.1% in February, close to the pre-pandemic 5.0%.
The newest data in small business revenues [also show the economy rebounding]. Updated after a long delay, these now show small business revenues in Pennsylvania are about 5% above levels in January 2020, shortly before the pandemic began.


Time to Help People, Not Oil Companies

Marc Stier | 03/25/202 | Blog & Policy Brief
Pennsylvania families and our economy are currently being stressed by a rise in prices that is the result of an unexpectedly quick economic recovery the supply chain issues it created, the gas price spike created by Russia’s war on the Ukraine, and the determination on the part of multi-national corporations to take advantage of these conditions to maximize their profits. As we have shown elsewhere, the state will have an accumulated surplus of $10.2 billion at the end of the current fiscal year. The Republican-controlled General Assembly has left much ARP money unspent and added far more of it than necessary to the General Fund to balance the budget. It’s time to use that money to deal with the current difficulties faced by Pennsylvania families—including the rise in gas prices—which in turn threaten to slow our economic recovery.

It’s Time to Reinstate the Philadelphia Intangible Wealth Tax

Marc Stier and Eugene Henninger-Voss | 03/29/2022 | Policy Brief
Wealth inequality in America, in Pennsylvania, and in our region has been growing strikingly since the late 1970s. And wealth inequality continues to increase during the pandemic. The dramatic rise in wealth inequality threatens economic growth, reduces the tax revenues needed to fund vital public institutions, and undermines our democracy.
To counter wealth inequality and to raise the revenue needed to fund programs that support the well-being of working people in our city, we call for the reinstitution of a wealth tax of 4 mill or .4% of the value of intangible wealth in Philadelphia. We estimate that this tax would raise more than $200 million per year in revenues for the city, which would provide the funds necessary to create and / or expand programs that would enable us to break down the barriers of class, race, and gender that stand in the way of opportunity for so many of our fellow Philadelphians. Doing that—as well as supplying public amenities that the city cannot now afford—would also make our city a better place for everyone to live.

Register for the Budget and Policy Summit

PA Budget and Policy Summit 2022

It’s not too late to register for the Budget and Policy Summit.

Join us at 1 p.m., Thursday, March 31, for the 3rd week of the 4-week series.

Choose from 2 workshop sessions:
  • Addressing Housing Affordability in the COVID-19 Period & Beyond: Overview on Curbing Evictions in Pennsylvania Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) & Possible Solutions
  • The Future of Pennsylvania’s Democracy

Click here to register.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren pitches a Philadelphia wealth tax ahead of Mayor Kenney’s budget proposal
Philadelphia Inquirer | 3/29/22

“‘The tax system in America is broken, and it allows the rich and the powerful to make themselves richer and more powerful at the expense of working families,’ Warren said at a virtual news conference with Brooks. ‘These proposals are popular with Americans, and they’re popular because Americans understand that the tax system is rigged.’”

Midstate avg. gas prices see drop in last week
ABC 27 | Harrisburg | 3/21/22

“‘Families need some help,’ Keystone Research Center Economist, Stephen Herzenberg said. His concern? ‘Whether gas prices are going up or coming down, it’s not news that the gas companies pass on the price increase right away and don’t pass back the cut quickly.’

Indeed, Gas Buddy data for the first few days of Maryland’s tax cut shows prices in Maryland have dropped by more than in Pennsylvania and the nation, but by less than if gas stations passed the entire tax cut through to consumers. Herzenberg favors direct relief. One example…

‘To give a $250 per car break to Pennsylvanians. So if you’ve got to register a car, therefore you drive, you have some gas expenses,’ Herzenberg said. ‘If we give money directly to low-income Pennsylvanians and to drivers in Pennsylvania, that’s going to hit the mark better.’”

Gym, others celebrate 12 years of the Affordable Care Act
Northeast Times | Philadelphia | 3/23/22

“Gym was joined by For Our Future PA, Protect Our Care PA, the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, the Pennsylvania Health Access Network and Family Friendly Pennsylvania.

They argued that the law’s provisions have lowered costs, expanded access to care, eliminated lifetime caps, expanded Medicaid and secured protections for millions living with pre-existing conditions.”