The Update: What’s Important in Harrisburg and D.C. – October 4, 2021



The coming weeks will be critical to the Build Back Better agenda in Washington. The package of bills will address structural inequities in our economy, critical infrastructure needs, and climate change. If you want to lower child care costs, lower health care costs, lower taxes for families with children, lower taxes for workers without children, and create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs, make sure to take action below.

In Solidarity,


Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director

The Prospects for Progress in DC
by Marc Stier
News stories from Washington, D.C., are beginning to remind us of a melodrama with one cliffhanger after another—and they got worse after Speaker Pelosi decided not to hold a vote on the infrastructure bill last week. The key question appears to be: “will division between progressives and moderates in the Democratic party” be overcome so they can pass a reconciliation bill, an infrastructure bill, and an increase in the debt limit? Drama is almost always a part of major policy change, and cliffhangers sell newspapers and generate clicks on the Web. But looking forward, it seems clear that much of this daily drama is hysterical. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that President Biden and the Democrats in Congress are going to do all of these things within the coming weeks.  

Read more. 

Are ReImagine Appalachia’s Priorities Reflected in the Federal Infrastructure?  

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework (BIF) among several other nicknames) is over 2,700 pages and would authorize $1 trillion in spending. It passed the Senate earlier this year, and a House vote is next. Meanwhile, another infrastructure-related bill called the Build Back Better Act is being developed in both the House and Senate. The question we have at ReImagine Appalachia is—what’s in it for Appalachia?  

Read more.


Contact your member of Congress NOW about
the Build Back Better agenda!

The intense negotiations happening in Congress right now will determine if we end up with a weak and watered-down version of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda or one that truly invests in the needs facing us now and requires the rich and corporations to help pay for those investments by paying their fair share of taxes. If your member of Congress is a Democrat, he or she is poised to support Build Back Better.

Use THIS LINK to thank them!   If your member of Congress is a Republican, he or she is poised to oppose Build Back Better.

Use THIS LINK to tell them that Pennsylvanians need them to support it.  

If you are not sure who your member of Congress is, you can find out HERE.  



Four-State Economic Renewal Plan Gets Fresh Attention  

Route 50

“ ‘Our region desperately needs jobs,’ said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center, a Pennsylvania-based group. Declining male employment levels since the 1960s, he said, have contributed to a situation in West Virginia where 20 out of every 100 men ages 25 to 54 are not employed.  

‘Depression-era levels,’ Herzenberg added.  

The thinking with the Marshall Plan is that if communities throughout the region—urban and rural, thriving and struggling—can come together and ride an approaching wave of innovation in the manufacturing and energy sectors, the region as a whole might regain more of its lost economic might, and do this in a way that is cleaner for the environment and more equitable for residents.’ ”  

Appalachian group’s brief makes recommendations for ARC
ABC 36  

“Amid negotiations in Congress over the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act, Appalachian groups are pointing to the urgent need for significant investments in the region, including more funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

A new issue brief released today by ReImagine Appalachia titled ‘A Stronger Appalachian Regional Commission Vital to Economic Progress,’ discusses the history of the ARC and offers recommendations for how this important agency can best respond to Appalachia’s current challenges, as well as a need for increased funding for the program.”  

‘Tax The Rich’ Plane Flies Over Levittown Area

 Levittown Now  

“A plane carrying a banner that read ‘Tax The Rich’ made its way over the Levittown area last Friday and caught the attention of numerous people. The banner was part of efforts by The 99% Pennsylvania campaign, which is part of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, to pressure Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, of Middletown Township, to support the Build Back Better Plan.”




Philadelphia set to run out of rental relief money in two weeks as it waits for federal funds  
Philadelphia Inquirer  

“Part of the reason for Philadelphia’s funding crunch is that the state and federal governments distributed much of the money based on county population, not on the number of low-income renters, or the cost of rent. (The second round of federal funding did include extra money for ‘high-need’ areas, including Philadelphia.)  

‘A population-based formula shortchanges urban counties, which tend to have a higher share of renters and higher costs of living,’ said Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, a left-leaning think tank in Harrisburg.  

For instance, only 14% of households in rural Forest County are renters compared with 47% in Philadelphia — the highest number in the state. But, in the first round of funding, Forest County received more than five times as much money per rental household, according to the group’s analysis.”    

Reality Check

Marc Stier is director of the PA Budget and Policy Center and joined Charles to discuss Keystone Research Center’s new issue brief detailing how local Pennsylvania governments can best use American Rescue Plan funds to recover from the pandemic catastrophe and rebuild better for all citizens.  

Read the brief here.      

The Keystone Research Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that promotes a more prosperous and equitable Pennsylvania economy. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center is a nonpartisan policy research project that provides independent, credible analysis on state tax, budget, and related policy matters, with attention to the impact of current or proposed policies on working families.