Say you’re working your way through college, supplementing student loans with a part-time job managing inventory at Wegmans. You make a decent hourly wage, but your health insurance benefits are key, saving you thousands per year in premium costs. Then, one Monday, your boss tells you part-timers are no longer eligible for benefits.
Jim VanBlarcom, a busy Bradford County dairy farmer, set a work day aside to come to Harrisburg and tell his story to Gov. Tom Corbett's Marcellus Shale panel. Royalty money from leasing farmland helped him double his dairy herd size, and he's glad the industry's here.
Penn's Woods are darker and deeper in red ink than ever before thanks to the tax-borrow-and-spend agenda of the Rendell Administration and some General Assembly members who failed to put Pennsylvania back on a path to prosperity. To add insult to injury last month, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that Pennsylvania would lose another C
Recent Blog Posts
Pennsylvania’s economy is beginning to recover from the 2007 recession, according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Since 2010, Pennsylvania has added 86,400 jobs, ranking 21st among states. In contrast, Pennsylvania added just 41,300 jobs from 2002-2010. This lack of job growth can be attributed to a variety of things including national trends; Pennsylvania's tax burden, which is the 10th highest in the nation; and the state's regulatory environment and growth in government spending—issues which lawmakers need to tackle.
While Pennsylvania employment has not returned to its prerecession peak, the state is slowly making progress. Claims of Pennsylvania ranking near the bottom in job creation during the past few years are widespread but misleading. In fact, the state has ranked poorly in job growth for decades.
Policymakers in Harrisburg should consider reforms to encourage job growth. Here are just a few recommendations from our new report, Blueprint for a Prosperous Pennsylvania:
End Corporate Welfare and Lower the Tax Burden: Pennsylvania will spend approximately $1.6 billion on corporate welfare this fiscal year. Instead of handing out loans, tax credits, and special favors to privileged companies, policymakers should end these programs and use the savings to cut Pennsylvania’s corporate tax rate, which is the second highest in the world.
Enact Welfare Reform: Pennsylvania's welfare budget continues to grow at an unsustainable rate. To prevent burdening Pennsylvanians with even higher taxes, policymakers should crackdown on the fraud and waste inherent in welfare programs, and demand flexibility from the federal government to restructure the welfare system’s incentives, which only hurt those trying to escape poverty.
Enact Spending Limits: In order to put Pennsylvania on a sustainable path, lawmakers should adopt fiscal restraints, such as spending limits for core functions of government. The limits would control the growth of government spending by tying increases to inflation and population growth. Had state spending limits been enacted in 2000, taxpayers could have seen savings of $4,000 per family of four.
Pennsylvanians are losing economic freedom according to the Fraser Institute’s annual report, Economic Freedom of North America 2013. The commonwealth is slowly losing ground ranking 33rd in 2009 and dropping to 40th in the latest study.
The index measures the limitations on economic freedom imposed by all levels of government in the 50 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces under three broad categories. Pennsylvania performs poorly in each category:
- Size of government: 48th
- Takings and discriminatory wealth redistribution: 34th
- Labor market freedom: 24th
There are several reasons for Pennsylvania’s abysmal performance. Chief among them is Pennsylvania's growing debt and spending, which has created $47 billion in unfunded pension debt and an estimated $1.2 to $1.4 billion budget deficit.
If policymakers want to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians, focus should be on increasing economic freedom and opportunity by enacting pension reform, slowing the growth of overall spending and reducing the size of government.
For more on how to accomplish these goals, check out our newest report: Blueprint for a Prosperous Pennsylvania.
Did you know that raising the minimum wage harms the low-skilled workers the policy is meant to help?
Or that prevailing wage laws artificially increase the cost of public works projects at the expense of lower taxes or expanded government services?
Associate Professor of Economics Matthew Rousu joins us for a wide-ranging discussion on Pennsylvania's labor policy in our latest Google+ Hangout and podcast.
Matt teaches at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., and has written on economics for Forbes and US News and World Report as well as for Pennsylvania newspapers The Patriot-News and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Matt helps us rethink the impact of economic policies that seem beneficial on the surface but have unintended negative consequences.
Click here for an audio-only podcast version.
Want to hear more from Professor Rousu? Visit his blog on economic policy at paeconomist.blogspot.com.
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.
Last night, I spoke with ABC 27 about polling that shows the vast majority of union household support ending taxpayer collection of union political money. See the video below: In response, Rep. Mike Sturla makes the claim that union dues aren't used on politics. As we've explained before, there ...