Center for Economic Freedom & Prosperity
The Center for Economic Freedom and Prosperity promotes economic policies that limit government intervention in the economy; encourage the entrepreneurial spirit and competition; and allow Pennsylvanians to pursue their own happiness and take personal responsibility for their lives.
Governor Wolf cannot ignore Pennsylvania’s pension crisis any longer. Today, the state Senate passed legislation to convert a broken retirement system into one that is sustainable for taxpayers and fair to public employees. The pension bill heads to the House, putting the critical fiscal issue front and center for the state budget which is due before July 1st.
Pension costs are ballooning so quickly, they threaten to consume funds for education, public safety and welfare. Without reform, Pennsylvanians face cuts to services, teacher layoffs, higher property taxes, and even seeing cities go bankrupt. These dire threats make pension reform urgent.
Today, the Senate Finance Committee tackled the biggest cost driver in Pennsylvania’s budget: public sector pensions. The committee passed Senate Bill 1, kicking off a renewed push for an affordable and predictable defined-contribution retirement plan for all new state and school district employees—including lawmakers themselves.
In Pennsylvania, government unions enjoy a number of legal and political privileges. Among these government-granted privileges is the practice of “release time,” which permit government unions to utilize public resources to support their private operations.
Transparency, openness, and the public’s right to know are critical to holding politicians accountable. But contract negotiations between public-sector unions and state and local government officials worth billions of dollars are closed to public scrutiny. Today, the state Senate took a historic step by passing two financial transparency bills designed to let taxpayers in on those secret negotiations to see how big of a bill they’ll be paying for government services.
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.
Today, the Senate State Government Committee passed a collection of bills aimed at enhancing transparency in government union contract negotiations.
Today, the Senate Finance Committee passed Taxpayer Protection Act legislation to the floor, kicking off a push to protect middle-class Pennsylvanians’ finances from unaffordable spending and tax increases like those recently proposed by Gov. Wolf.
If the proposed sales tax expansion contained in Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal becomes law, Louise Bell's nursing home costs will jump by $3,000—essentially adding a 13th month to her annual bill. That’s just one of the many unintended consequences of Wolf’s budget plan which—despite being sold as tax cut for middle-class families—would create few winners and many losers across every income level.
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Who are We?
The Commonwealth Foundation is Pennsylvania's free-market think tank. The Commonwealth Foundation transforms free-market ideas into public policies so all Pennsylvanians can flourish.