The Update: What’s Important in Harrisburg and D.C. – April 14, 2021



On March 31st, President Joe Biden gave a major policy speech in Pittsburgh outlining his “American Jobs Plan.” The plan will focus on infrastructure and climate and create hundreds of thousands of sustainable jobs. The plan reflects many of the proposals in the ReImagine Appalachia agenda. Take a look below for recent coverage of the ReImagine campaign and for our joint recommendations for the Biden plan.

We have some staff news this week: We are very saddened to see Kadida Kenner, our director of campaigns for the PA Budget and Policy Center, leave us at the end of this month. However, we are happy to know that she is moving on to the New Pennsylvania Project to help engage all voters in Pennsylvania in every election. We wish her well! Since her role is so critical in running the We The People – PA campaign, we will be taking on an interim director of campaigns, Nick Pressley. Nick comes to us from the ACLU where he worked to end mass incarceration. He also has experience working around the state on various issues and with candidates. We are very happy to add Nick to our team and not to miss a beat on working to make sure that Pennsylvania is a place where all people prosper.

Finally, we also wrapped up our 2021 Budget Summit last week. All of the sessions are now available to watch online. Take a look to catch any that you may have missed.


Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director


Budget Summit Sessions Now Available Online 

Missed a session at the Budget Summit? Don’t worry!

Just click here to access our new page on the KRC-PBPC website called “2021 Budget Summit Resources,” devoted to providing presentation slides, videos, and other information about this year’s virtual summit. 

The sessions are also available on the PBPC YouTube channel.

Here are some of the great sessions you can watch online:

  • Pennsylvania‘s School Funding System: Inadequate, Inequitable and Unconstitutional
  • Towards racial equity in Pennsylvania public policy
  • Supporting Campaigns for Immigrant Rights in Pennsylvania
  • Organizing and mobilizing during a pandemic
  • ReImagine Appalachia: Towards a Climate Infrastructure Stimulus

And more! Click here to see all the videos on our YouTube channel.

If you appreciate the Budget Summit and find the information useful in your work, please help us keep it up by making a donation.


New Report 

A Necessary First Step: Governor Wolf’s Proposal to Provide Adequate & Equitable Funding of PA Schools 

It is well known that Pennsylvania’s K-12 schools are inadequately and inequitably funded. But the extent of the problem is not fully understood. This paper uses new data and methods to demonstrate just how unfair—and in fact, morally unsustainable—the funding of elementary and secondary education is in the Commonwealth. And it shows that the proposal put forward in Governor Wolf’s 2021-2022 Executive Budget, or something much like it, is a necessary first step toward reforming the shameful way K-12 schools in Pennsylvania are funded.

Read more.

PRESS RELEASE – KRC Partners on Sustainable Development Recommendations to the Biden Administration 

Making America a Better Place for All 

In 2015, the United Nations Member States, including the United States, unanimously approved 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. In the April issue of ELR—the Environmental Law Reporter—22 experts, including Keystone Research Center economist and executive director Stephen Herzenberg, recommend steps the Biden-Harris administration should take now to advance each of the SDGs, both domestically and abroad. Steve wrote the section on SDG 8, “Decent Work,“ which emphasized the need to reduce inequality, including by strengthening labor rights and unions.

Read the full blog post on the recommendations.

Making America A Better Place for All: Sustainable Development Recommendations for the Biden Administration is available for free download at


Take Action: Support a People’s Budget

The pandemic has exposed the deep inequities in our society. The American Rescue Plan is an unprecedented opportunity to opportunity to rebuild our communities and create an infrastructure for justice.

The state government must take advantage of that opportunity to:

  • raise wages.
  • expand the safety net.
  • reduce inequity in K-12 education and make college affordable.
  • support local businesses and start and sustain new businesses
  • expand rental-assistance programs.
  • reform taxes with a recovery grant to low-income Pennsylvanians.
  • raise taxes on the top 1% and PA corporations that pay no taxes to fund these programs when ARP money runs out.
  • open all education and safety net program to immigrants, documented and undocumented.

Click here to send a letter to your legislators.


In the News 

Opinion: A ‘Just Transition’ clean energy revolution can be a boon for West Virginia — and the country

Washington Post – Opinion by Katrina vanden Heuvel

The United States is poised to embark on a clean energy revolution. President Biden has introduced an infrastructure plan that goes beyond roads and bridges. It would produce millions of high-paying jobs with a series of investments to mitigate the impact of climate change — such as installing electric vehicle charging stations across the country, retrofitting our homes to increase energy efficiency, and expanding capacity in renewable sectors such as solar and offshore wind.

Other Voices: Biden’s Pittsburgh visit shows the path to shared prosperity in the Ohio River Valley

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Opinion by Erika Strassburger

So how do we build back better—and achieve a strong, diversified economy with good wages?

Mr. Biden is thinking big. Just one among many of the goals laid out in his speech was a commitment that “the American Jobs Plan will put plumbers and pipefitters to work replacing all lead pipes and service lines to save our children’s health and clean drinking water.“ As a member of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Board, this is a promise that will benefit not only our children today, but every future generation.


Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Takes On Climate Change To Create Jobs

The Allegheny Front

“It’s a bold, ambitious, common-sense plan,“ said Steve Herzenberg, an economist with the Keystone Research Center, a non-profit that’s funded by charitable foundations, as well as labor unions.

The center is part of a coalition of groups called ReImagine Appalachia, which covers southwestern Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio, parts of West Virginia, and Kentucky. It advocates for people who have been left behind in the current economy.


Recent history tells Pa. where to spend pandemic relief funds; let’s see if Pa. listens


“Creative use of the state’s discretionary money with dedicated pots of other money“ can impact more areas, says Stephen Herzenberg, head of the left-leaning Keystone Research Center.

He suggests investment in post-secondary education to increase access to training and apprenticeships in health care, construction and more, “to meet business needs,“ as well as improving the state’s standing in higher ed and student debt.

Marc Stier, director of the liberal PA Budget and Policy Center, thinks lawmakers should use the money for Wolf’s proposed education-funding reform.

Wolf’s plan relies on a tax increase (which isn’t happening). Stier says recovery funds can attack “long-term injustices the pandemic has revealed“ such as inequitable school funding and low-wage workers’ incomes.


Group calls for changes in way education funding in Pa. is distributed


This week, the PA Budget and Policy Center released a study that identified inequities among districts with low wealth and high minority populations.

“We have a serious problem that has gone on way too long,“ said Marc Stier, director of the PA Budget and Policy Center.

The study found there is a spending gap of more than $3,000 per kid, between students in low-wealth districts and high-wealth districts.

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.