The Update: What’s Happening in Harrisburg and DC – February 4 , 2022



Last Friday, as many of you saw, the Fern Hollow bridge in Pittsburgh collapsed because of age and disrepair. If there were ever a time to reinvest in America, now is that time. The signs are all around us.

President Biden gave a speech later that day in Pittsburgh where he said:

“Throughout our history, public investments and infrastructure have transformed America. The transcontinental railroad and interstate highways united two oceans and brought us into a totally new age of progress. Universal public school and college aid opened wide the doors of opportunity. Scientific breakthroughs took us to the Moon and now to Mars, discovered vaccines, and gave us the Internet and so much more. These are the investments we make together, as one country, and that only government can make. Time and again, they propel us into the future.”

We are on the precipice of making those great investments. The first step was already done with the bi-partisan infrastructure bill. And now we must keep working at the state and federal level for investments in the working people of Pennsylvania to build a better bridge to tomorrow.

Read more below about our work on these important issues this week.

Thank you for supporting our work,

Stephen Herzenberg
Executive Director

Pittsburgh Bridge Collapse During President Biden’s Visit Underscores Critical Need for Infrastructure Investment

Stephen Herzenberg | 1/28/21

The president’s address at Hazelwood Green, the site of a former steel mill, focused on the payoff to the new infrastructure law and on efforts to strengthen the nation’s supply chains and revitalize manufacturing in America’s industrial heartland.

In the year since President Biden took office, said Stephen Herzenberg, economist and executive director of Keystone Research Center (KRC), the United States has added 350,000 manufacturing jobs and Pennsylvania 16,000 jobs. KRC estimates that the IIJA will add another 30,000 jobs—direct jobs and supply chain jobs—in Pennsylvania over the next decade (not counting jobs created when workers in infrastructure and supply chain jobs spend their wages.) Many of these 30,000 jobs will be in blue-collar construction trades and manufacturing supply chain jobs.
“After talking about infrastructure for years,” said Herzenberg, “Congress and President Biden finally got the investments we need over the finish line—to prevent more bridge collapses, fill our potholes, and fix our overflowing sewer systems. This will mean jobs for the Pittsburgh region’s highly skilled building trades, precision machining and other factory workers.”

Economic Update: PA Needs Action to Sustain Demand and Make Jobs Worth Taking to Achieve Economic Health Beyond Pre-pandemic Levels

Maisum Murtaza | 02/01/2022
Even should the virus finally recede over the next few months, two other factors threaten economic progress. First, as noted in “The State of Working Pennsylvania 2021,” much of the assistance for families from the American Rescue Plan has run out (e.g., expanded unemployment benefits in September 2021) or will soon run out (the child tax credit, rental assistance in some communities). State investment of the $7.5 billion in American Rescue Plan dollars sitting in Harrisburg—e.g., in education, assistance for small businesses, and support for low-income families—could help avoid flagging demand later in 2022. In addition, improving jobs could make it worthwhile for more workers to return to the job market. The obvious way to improve a million or so low-wage jobs in Pennsylvania would be through a big increase in the Pennsylvania minimum wage.

Statement: The Democratic Education Funding Plan

Marc Stier & Eugene Henninger-Voss | 01/31/2022
Senator Vince Hughes, Democratic chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Lindsey Williams, Democratic chair of the Senate Ed Committee; Sen. Tim Kearney, member of the Senate Education Committee, and Democratic vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Rep. Matt Bradford. Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee and Rep. Michael Schlossberg, House Democratic Caucus Administrator today put forward a bold proposal for new funding for Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts.
Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center strongly supports this proposal.

New Mayor, New Opportunity—for a Pittsburgh That Works for All

Nthando Thandiwe | 01/31/21
On Monday January 3, 2022, mayor Ed Gainey was sworn into office as the 61st mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. Mayor Gainey has the opportunity to address historical inequities and create a city that works for all residents. In his inaugural address, mayor Gainey acknowledged the historical significance of being Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor, and his desire to create a “Pittsburgh for all.” He aspired to make Pittsburgh “…a leader in community and police relations, economic inclusion, affordability, [and] transportation access…”

The Outrageous Decision on Vote by Mail

Marc Stier | 01/28/2022
The party-line Commonwealth Court decision declaring mail-in ballots unconstitutional is immediately outrageous and portends a deepening crisis in our democracy. The PA Supreme Court must–and we believe will–move quickly to overturn it.



PA’s Mail-In Voting Law Ruled Unconstitutional

PA Patch | 1/28/21

“The party-line Commonwealth Court decision declaring mail-in ballots unconstitutional is immediately outrageous and portends a deepening crisis in our democracy,” the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center said in a statement. “That the Republicans on the Commonwealth Court are willing to interject themselves into critical election issues in such a partisan way suggests that they, along with the Republicans in the General Assembly…have dispensed with an effort to govern by principle and reasoned debate.”

Meet a Progressive: Advocating for Progressive Social Change with Nick Pressley

Bucks County Progressive | 1/26/21

“I learned something that would prove to be very valuable to me in the years since: Anyone can be an advocate for change. But some of the best advocates for progressive social change come from impacted communities and marginalized identities like mine. My background was an asset, not a hindrance, for the first time in my life. So I’ve committed to not only continue working on social change, but to bring that realization to others who have been in my shoes as well.”