Family ties can bind us together across any cultural or class boundary. Maintaining and promoting them should be our first priority. But while politicians routinely give lip service to helping families like yours and mine prosper, I’ve found that their solutions often do more harm than good.
In April, Gov. Wolf crisscrossed the state on a “Jobs that Pay” tour saying his record-setting tax-and-spend budget proposal will boost economic growth. Today, a new, nonpartisan study says even more harm could be done to middle class families: 30,000 jobs will not be created next year if Wolf’s plan is passed.
The Commonwealth Foundation worked with the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University to apply an economic modeling program to analyze the overall impact of Gov. Wolf’s proposals. Economists at Beacon Hill developed the Pennsylvania State Tax Analysis Modeling Program (PA STAMP) to calculate the impact of Gov. Wolf’s tax proposals on job creation. As a result of Wolf’s tax increases, 29,408 jobs will not be created in 2015-16.
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At the beginning of 2015, we heard a lot about a "fresh start" for Pennsylvania. But nine months later, it's difficult to identify anything fresh about Gov. Wolf's tax, borrow and spend plan.
In fact, Philadelphia Daily News columnist John Baer pointed out that every Pennsylvania governor since the 1970s has raised taxes. Reading that, I naturally thought, “Yeah, well maybe we should stop doing that.”
Some Democrats argue that tax increases are part of responsible governing, noting that every governor elected since the '70s - Milton Shapp, Dick Thornburgh, Bob Casey, Tom Ridge, Ed Rendell, Tom Corbett - raised taxes (the argument is Corbett's fuels-tax hike for $2.3 billion in road and bridge repairs counts).
But Republicans say maybe that's the problem. Maybe the state's economy would be better with lower taxes.
Nate Benefield, of the conservative Commonwealth Foundation, makes the case against raising taxes: "Overall, our tax burden has gone up, and yet we have stagnant growth, among the slowest in the country."
Pennsylvania's ranking in state and local tax burden, according to the respected D.C.-based Tax Foundation, is 10th heaviest among states and third heaviest among the most populous states, behind New York and California.
In other words, for 45 years Pennsylvania politicians have been raising taxes—resulting in anemic job growth, income growth and population growth.
- Since 1970, spending has increase by an inflation-adjusted $13,800 per family of four, or $3,450 more per resident.
- As a result, Pennsylvanians labor under the 10th highest tax burden in the country, up from 20th in 1977 and 25th in 1991.
- From 1970 to 2014, Pennsylvania has ranked a dismal 49th in job growth, 45th in personal income growth, and 48th in population growth.
Ironically,Gov. Tom Wolf suggests his $4.6 billion, $1,400 per family of four tax increase represents a new way of doing things in Harrisburg. Raising taxes to historic highs, while rejecting real pension reform or liquor privatization, isn't fresh or innovative. It's the same thing we’ve been doing for decades.
It’s time we stop repeating the same failed mistakes of the past.
What do Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Canada have in common? Their citizens all enjoy more economic freedom than Americans.
According to the 2015 Economic Freedom of the World Index, the United States ranks 16th, down from a rank of 2 in 2000. Americans are losing their economic freedoms while the rest of the world is becoming more free.
The Economic Freedom of the World Index measures economic freedom by analyzing five areas: size of government, legal structure and property rights, access to sound money, free trade, and regulation. The U.S. scored the lowest in the size of government and protection of property rights categories.
Economic freedom is more than an academic concept; it's critical for prosperity. Economic freedom is positively associated with higher average per-capita GDP, longer life spans, higher incomes for the poor and more civil liberties.
To read more about the benefits of expanding economic freedom visit www.freetheworld.com.
Uber and Lyft provide inexpensive rides to customers across the country despite numerous regulatory hurdles—chief among them the Philadelphia Parking Authority, which has previously thwarted the businesses from operating within the city. Recently introduced Senate Bill 984, however, would allow Uber and Lyft to compete in Philadelphia.
This legislation, sponsored by Sen. Camera Bartolotta, establishes the framework under which ridesharing companies can freely and safely operate within all 67 counties of the commonwealth. SB 984 requires background checks and a zero tolerance policy on drug and alcohol use for prospective drivers. Uber and Lyft will also be required to maintain insurance coverage and abide by vehicle safety regulations.
According to a recent study from the Cato Institute, many concerns surrounding ridesharing are unfounded. Critics typically point to safety concerns as their primary objection, but Uber and Lyft actually offer a safer alternative to the taxicab monopoly—both for drivers and passengers.
A major factor ensuring this increased safety is the utilization of an electronic payment system. All Uber and Lyft transactions are completed via their respective smartphone apps. This eliminates many of the risks facing drivers. Since cash never changes hands, drivers are less vulnerable to robbery.
Additionally, unlike a traditional taxi service, where passengers are anonymous, Uber and Lyft customers must create electronic profiles to use the ridesharing services. These measures ensure added safety for drivers, as any criminal activity could easily be linked to a user’s profile information stored on the ridesharing app.
The structure of Uber and Lyft protects the passengers, too. The passenger knows the name of the driver, the make and model of the car, and the license plate number upon ordering a ride.
Immediately after the ride is over, the passenger can rate the driver from their smartphone, which gives passengers influence over future demand for the driver. Indeed, user ratings, combined with the ability to choose your driver, provides riders far more protection than government licensing mandates.
Sen. Bartolotta’s legislation will increase competition and provide consumers with more options at better prices. It’s time to bring ridesharing freedom to Pennsylvania.