The Update: What’s Important in Harrisburg and DC – August 16, 2021


Thank you for all of your support for the KRC/PBPC Virtual Give Day last week. We exceeded our goal and we are so grateful for all of you who jumped in and gave what you could to make our work possible. We truly appreciate you. 

In Solidarity, 

Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director


U.S. Senate Vote on $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution Begins Process for Enacting President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda and Making Bold Investments in American Families, Jobs 
This action establishes the framework that will allow for once-in-a-generation investments in universal pre-k, tuition-free community college, paid family and medical leave for all workers, affordable housing, reductions in health care costs, and clean energy efforts. The resolution also calls for funding these investments by raising taxes on the richest Americans — those earning more than $400,000 per year—and the wealthiest corporations, providing tax relief for middle-class families. 
This morning’s vote comes just one day after the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would make long-overdue investments in America’s crumbling infrastructure. Taken together, both measures will revitalize Pennsylvania and our nation, creating good-paying jobs, cleaning up the environment, improving educational outcomes, and ensuring that all workers and families are able to thrive. 
PBPC strongly urges every member of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation to support and improve both legislative efforts as they continue to advance toward President Biden’s desk.
Read more.

Infrastructure Bill Passed with Bipartisan Support in the U.S. Senate Makes Long-Overdue Investments, but More Must Be Done to Advance a Robust and Equitable Recovery
Today, in a 69-30 vote, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which makes important and long-overdue investments in transportation, public transit, clean drinking water, and high-speed internet that will create good-paying union jobs across Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center (PBPC) commends President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, and the bipartisan working group of senators for their diligence in negotiating, drafting, and advancing the legislation to the House of Representatives, and we thank Senator Bob Casey for voting in favor of the bill.

Read more.

The Shortfall in Rental Assistance Is a Policy Choice 
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 45,000 households have applied for rental assistance as of Friday, August 6. But the City of Philadelphia only has enough funding to provide help for half of them, and more applications are coming in every day. 

No one should be surprised by this devastating result. In June, a PA Budget and Policy Center policy paper showed that the General Assembly had distributed federal funds for rental assistance in a way that shorted urban counties, which are also counties that have a higher share of Black families.
Read more.

Testimony to the House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Childcare in PA 
At this point, we are all aware of the tremendous impact that high-quality childcare and early childhood education have on a child’s future school performance and success. Our children’s brains go through their most rapid development in the first three years of life and a child’s environment plays a central role in this development. Kids who participate in quality early childhood education programs have shown higher cognitive abilities, greater academic achievement in reading and math, higher college attendance, and less involvement in crime than those who did not have access to quality childcare. Down the road, investments in quality childcare programs will lead to a stronger workforce and higher earnings, which will greatly benefit individuals who participated in these programs, and our state as a whole.

Read more.


Overtime pay for up to 190K workers died in Harrisburg this summer. Why aren’t more people upset?

“Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center, agrees with Wolf that the education funding is ‘a big accomplishment.’ But ‘relative to the overtime expansion,’ he said, it’s ‘a fragile victory. We need a lot more support for underfunded school districts than the governor has won,’ Herzenberg said. And by allowing the overtime policy to die, he continued, ‘The Wolf administration was, in our view, too open about its willingness to give away something that they had already won. … This was a significant loss to a sizable number of workers that, in many cases, government hasn’t done much for in a long time.'”

Making the case for infrastructure investment
South Philly Review

“State Rep. Jordan Harris and others gathered last week outside U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s office at 2nd and Chestnut streets condemning the lawmaker for voting against the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Harris, the House Democratic whip, was joined by Rep. Joe Hohenstein at the Aug. 12 rally, organized by For Our Future Pennsylvania and the 99% Pennsylvania, which is a campaign of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center.”

Nearly $19 billion for bridges, roads and more: Here’s what Pa. could get in Senate infrastructure bill
Penn Live

“The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center said the infrastructure bill makes ‘important and long overdue investments’ in transportation and clean drinking water. But the center also said too much of President Joe Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ agenda wasn’t part of the final bill. The liberal-leaning group wanted to see greater investments in education, childcare, and housing. Still, the center is urging lawmakers to support the package.” 

Rally outside Pennycuick’s office urges help for small business
The Pottstown Mercury

“Katy Personette, deputy director of campaigns for We the People, said in the last 15 months that the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the economy, small business revenues are down 28 percent. And since June, small business revenues have dropped another 10 percentage points. The economy is down 400,000 jobs from February of 2020, she said. ‘The Republicans criticized Gov. Wolf for his shut-downs that were done for public health because of the impact on small businesses and working people. Now they’re sitting on $7 billion those small businesses need to survive,’ Personnette said. ‘Their failure to help is utterly hypocritical. The time has come to put their money where their mouth is, because that’s our money,’ she said noting that if the federal aid money is not spent by 2023, it goes back to Washington.” 

Advocates Testify In Favor Of Bill To Allow Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants
90.5 WESA

“There are more than 160,000 undocumented immigrants living in Pennsylvania who are eligible to drive, according to a study by the Keystone Research Center and its Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center. The study also estimates that Pennsylvania could see an increase of about $13 million in revenue from taxes, registration fees, license fees and vehicle-related purchases.” 

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.