TV Report: Waste & Fraud in Public Welfare

NOVEMBER 6, 2013

In a scathing investigative report, Chris Papst at CBS 21 revealed a widespread culture in Pennsylvania's Department of Public Welfare (DPW)—and orders from supervisors—to look past fraudulent claims to enroll more people in welfare program.

DPW accounts for 40 percent of the state's budget and makes an estimated 15 percent of all Medicaid payments in error, according to a report by the Auditor General, wasting an incredible $1 billion annually.

Examples of abuse are legendary.

From taxpayer-funded cruises, to NCAA basketball games, to unnecessary luxury vehicles, DPW has had long history of fiscal profligacy.

What's the solution? Here are just a few examples from our policy report on reforming welfare.

  • Utilize performance-based budgeting to expand programs that work and end programs that don't.
  • Aggressively identify and cut waste and abuse by enforcing eligibility standards.
  • Establish time limits on benefits and enhance work requirements to keep the safety net from becoming a permanent welfare hammock.

Watch CBS21's full report featuring a whistleblower's first-hand account of the culture of waste at DPW and comments from our own Nathan Benefield.

posted by JOHN BOUDER | 10:41 AM | Comments

Election Night Live Chat

NOVEMBER 6, 2012

Election Night Live ChatElection Day is here.  If you haven't yet taken the time to go out and cast an informed vote, please be sure to do so before polls close at 8 tonight. Once you're done voting, you can join CF staff and friends for an election night live chat, as we watch the results come in and talk about the implications for Pennsylvania.

Join us tonight beginning at 7:30 right here as we'll be covering all the election news from around Pennsylvania. 

Sign up for an email reminder below.

posted by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION | 02:28 PM | Comments

Veterans: Let's Do It For Them - VOTE!

APRIL 20, 2012

Why should you vote in the upcoming elections? Hear from three generations of combat veterans, all from the same Pennsylvania hometown, who speak of the selfless sacrifice of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines and how there is one sure way to honor their service -- VOTE!

Please help answer their charge by sharing this video.

posted by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION | 09:50 AM | Comments

Thank You, Friends of Freedom

NOVEMBER 23, 2011

Less than two weeks ago, CF announced to our supporters a goal of raising $225,000 by year's end.  They have already supplied $54,487.76.  Talk about Thanksgiving...I'm thankful!  And if you would like to help give CF the ability to fight hard for freedom over the next year, please click here.

posted by CHARLES MITCHELL | 09:15 AM | Comments

Exclusive Interview with Gov. Corbett, and Tonight on Stossel

Tune into the Box and Fox!

MAY 12, 2011

Matt on Stossel

Right now, I'm writing you from a train leaving New York City, because last night I interviewed with "The Stache," John Stossel, about the natural gas boom in Pennsylvania.  We talked with a studio audience alongside former PA Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger and an empty chair reserved for Josh Fox (creator of the fear mongering movie, Gasland) who ran from the interview like he did the facts.

No problem though; we made sure the public heard the truth about natural gas drilling, and you can see it on Stossel throughout the globe tonight on the Fox Business Network at 10 p.m. EST.

Matt and Gov. CorbettThat would usually be enough for one day, but yesterday morning, Gov. Tom Corbett stopped in our office to record an episode of The BOX.  The governor passionately spoke on the need for school choice, liquor store privatization, passing a budget on time and reiterating his no new taxes pledge.  Don't miss this great podcast exclusively available now on

But in case you think I popped my feet up and enjoyed the tardy government-run train ride, I made sure to make good use of the time to talk to a reporter from National Review about school choice in Pennsylvania, and approved CF's latest infographic, Natural Gas Tax for Smarties, available on our Web site right now.

Thanks to you, CF continues to bring the truth to the centers of influence in our communities, commonwealth and country as we remain...

Fighting for Your Freedom,

Matthew J. Brouillette
President & CEO

posted by MATTHEW BROUILLETTE | 00:00 PM | Comments

2011 Policy Summit Live Video

JANUARY 17, 2011

Watch the Commonwealth Foundation's 2011 Policy Summit live, beginning at 1 p.m.

posted by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION | 00:00 PM | Comments

Top Five CF Research Articles of 2010

DECEMBER 31, 2010

Based on website visits, here are the five most popular research articles produced by the Commonwealth Foundation in the past year:

#5: A Taxpayer's Budget 2010: Responsible Spending for Pennsylvania

A Taxpayer's Budget 2010: Responsible Spending for Pennsylvania identifies opportunities to cut over $4 billion in wasteful state spending in Gov. Rendell's proposed FY 2010-11 budget. The report also offers a series of recommendations for resolving the current revenue shortfall and reducing the size and burden of government on Pennsylvanians.

Read More

#4: Pennsylvania Pensions and Taxes

Pennsylvania's statewide pension plans for public school employees, state workers, legislators, judges and other government employees—the Public School Employee Retirement System (PSERS) and the State Employee Retirement System (SERS)—will require significantly higher taxpayer contributions in the 2012-13 fiscal year and beyond.

The following spreadsheets provide a breakdown of these increased pension costs, based on SERS and PSERS latest projections, to make them more understandable and tangible for the taxpayer.

Read More

#3: Climategate & Penn State

The release of embarrassingly candid emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia has intensified, if not vindicated, suspicions that scientific misconduct has played a significant role in fueling alarmism over supposed catastrophic manmade global warming.

Just days after news broke about what has been dubbed "Climategate," Penn State University (PSU) announced that it would investigate the conduct of Michael Mann, a professor in PSU's Department of Meteorology and a prominent figure in the Climategate emails.

Read More

#2: Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Candidate Survey

The Commonwealth Foundation asked each of the candidates in the May primary for Pennsylvania Governor to answer a series of 20 questions about state economic and fiscal policy. Answers for those candidates responding to the survey are summarized in the table. Responses from the remaining candidates will be added as they are received.

Read More

#1: Citizen's Guide to Electric Choice & Competition

In the late 1990s, Pennsylvania's electricity rates were 15% above the national average, despite the abundance of low-cost coal generation in the Commonwealth. At that time, electricity was sold by a monopoly utility provider per designated region. Then federal regulations changed to allow electricity markets to develop. The state legislature responded with the Electricity Generation Customer Choice and Competition Act, signed in December 1996, promising lower prices and better service through consumer choice and generation competition.

Today, consumers can shop for a new supplier who passes generation and transmission costs directly on to them.

Read More

For the rest of our year-end review, check out the top 5 PolicyBlog posts of 2010.

posted by NATHAN BENEFIELD | 11:09 AM | Comments

Top Five PolicyBlog Posts of 2010

DECEMBER 30, 2010

Based on reader visits, here are our five most popular PolicyBlog posts over the past year:

#5: 2010 SAT Scores by State

The College Board has released the results of the 2010 SAT. We prepared a chart of SAT performance by state, including all 50 states, a comparison of states with high participation, and Pennsylvania's performance throughout the years.

The original SAT data is available from the College Board site, including their Pennsylvania SAT profile and their 2010 SAT trends.

Read More

#4: PA Teacher Unions Endorse Reduced Pension Benefits, Deferring Contributions

An amendment to the pension deferral bill in the Pennsylvania House would reduce the retirement benefits for new state and school employees, but would continue Gov. Rendell's proposed deferment of pension costs. The legislation will now, on the whole, cost taxpayers a net increase of $27 billion in additional costs over 30 years. Further, the legislation still fails to provide pension reform.

Read More

#3: Ten Facts about the PA Budget Deal

Legislative leaders and Gov. Rendell reached an agreement on a PA state budget deal yesterday. Here are some facts about the $28.05 billion new spending plan:

Read More

#2: PA Taxpayers to Build Specter Library, Murtha Center

Pete DeCoursey of Capitolwire (subscription) reports today that the line items from the RACP legislation ($600 million in borrowing for corporate welfare, included as part of the budget deal), includes two projects named for Pennsylvania's former and soon-to-be-former members of Congress: Jack Murtha and Arlen Specter.

Read More

#1: Gasland Debunked

Tonight, HBO premiered the documentary Gasland—a film about the impacts of natural gas drilling across the United States. Director/producer and Pennsylvania native Josh Fox has been touring the country showcasing the film and urging lawmakers to act. Unfortunately, the movie is filled with half-truths, inaccuracies, and occasionally outright lies (or as the Patriot News says, "Not everything in the film’s narration is precisely accurate.")

Read More

Tomorrow, we'll cap off the year in review with the five most popular research articles of 2010.

posted by NATHAN BENEFIELD | 11:40 AM | Comments

PA Election Fun Facts

NOVEMBER 3, 2010

In case you missed our Election Night Live Blog last night, here are some highlights and fun facts.

  • While Pat Toomey won the election for US Senate, he trailed in early returns much of the night. Many of our comments were from worried Toomey supporters, and much of the chat was on where returns were coming in from.
  • Our readers overwhelming voted for Tom Corbett for Governor (according to the quick poll), much higher than his actual vote percentage, but he did win both.

  • The Pennsylvania Senate remains exactly the same: Republicans control 30-20. No incumbents lost, and Democrats retained control of all three open seats (held by retiring Democrats).
  • Republicans have take control of the Pennsylvania House, with at least 110 seats (Democrats have 90 seats, with 3 races within the margin for an automatic recount). Eric had too many "locks" in his initial roundup, as we found out throughout the night. There were 13 GOP pick-ups of Democrat seats, vs. 2 seats switching from Republican to Democrat. The three undecided races are all currently held by Democrats.
  • Fun Fact: The last time either party held 110 seats in the PA House, Matt Brouillette and I were the only ones alive on our full-time staff.

  • I wrote at 5:40 pm, "In my experience, the media always reports 'turnout is good.' Final count usually is not much different." Brilliant prediction; the final vote totals were about the same as 2006.
  • PA House Majority Leader Todd Eachus (D) fell, so did former Speaker of the House John Perzel (R). Indicted lawmakers, Rep. Bill DeWeese (D) and Sen. Jane Orie (R) both won.
  • Fun Fact: Lawmakers born in the 1980s (e.g., Jim Christiana and Matt Gabler, both in races that were expected to be close) did very well. Lawmakers elected in the 1970s (Perzel and DeWeese), had a tougher go of it.

  • In ballot measures across the US: Health Care Freedom amendments passed in Oklahoma and Arizona, but failed in Colorado (previously won in Missouri). A proposal to privatize liquor stores in Washington state failed narrowly (proponents had cited CF research in support of the referendum)
  • Fun Fact: When I first came to PA five years ago, the biggest political figures were Rendell, Specter, Santorum, Fumo, Perzel, Jubelirer, Deweese, and Murtha. A bit of change since then.

There are a slew of Pennsylvania election stories up now over at PA Indy.

Finally, here are two questions I posed last night: PA just elected a Republican Governor, a Republican US Senator, a Republican-controlled Senate, a Republican-controlled House, and a 12-7 Republican edge in Congress. Two questions:

1) Is PA still a "blue" state?
2) How will Republicans govern this time?

Let us know your answers on our Facebook Page.

posted by NATHAN BENEFIELD | 10:32 AM | Comments

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Who are We?

The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank.  The Commonwealth Foundation crafts free-market policies, convinces Pennsylvanians of their benefits, and counters attacks on liberty.