Center for Taxes & Fiscal Responsibility

The Center for Taxes & Fiscal Responsibility works to reduce the size, scope, and “tax-take” of state government; restore the government sector to its proper and limited role in our lives; and make government more open, transparent, and accountable to citizens.




Research Items

DECEMBER 2, 2016 | Policy Points by COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION

Tracking State Budget Trends

The 2016-17 General Fund budget added to Pennsylvania’s fiscal challenges. Lawmakers approved the $31.6 billion budget without implementing meaningful reforms or authorizing enough revenue to balance the budget. Despite lacking solid revenue sources, the legislature increased spending by $1.6 billion—a sum vastly exceeding the combined growth rate of inflation and population.

NOVEMBER 16, 2016 | News Availability

New IFO Report Emphasizes Need to Reform Spending

Pennsylvania Deficit Watch

Yesterday’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) mid-year report warned Pennsylvania could face a $900 million budget shortfall this year alone. By 2022, this deficit could reach $3 billion per year.

OCTOBER 27, 2016 | News Availability

Union Leaders Kill Critical Pension Reform at Members’ and Taxpayers’ Expense

In a blow to the public employees they claim to represent, government union leaders blocked significant pension reform that would have enhanced choice and portability for new state and public school employees and slowed the accumulation of taxpayer-backed pension debt.

OCTOBER 12, 2016 | News Release

Are These 8 Pa. School Districts Piling Up Tax Dollars Like Lower Merion?

A Montgomery County judge recently ruled that Lower Merion School District misled taxpayers by stashing huge cash reserves while repeatedly hiking taxes on township residents. Could 8 other Pennsylvania school districts be doing the same thing?

SEPTEMBER 27, 2016 | News Availability

House Committee Votes to Save Vape Shops

Today, the House Finance Committee voted 19-4 to repeal the 40-percent retroactive tax that is poised to drive hundreds of vape shops out of business and

SEPTEMBER 23, 2016 | Commentary by BOB DICK

Tax Sends Vape Shops Up in Smoke

Imagine you find a way to help others live healthier lives, and this passion leads you to invest your savings to start a related small business. Now, imagine state government taking it all away from you with the stroke of a pen.

SEPTEMBER 7, 2016 | News Release

Exposed: State Agency Pension Debt Revealed for First Time

As lawmakers mull major changes to Pennsylvania’s public pension system this Fall, the Commonwealth Foundation today revealed new state pension details, showing specific unfunded liabilities for state and local agencies, the General Assembly, the judiciary, state-funded colleges, and other state employers.

AUGUST 25, 2016 | Policy Points

How Does Pennsylvania's Tax Burden Compare?

Pennsylvania’s tax structure should benefit all Pennsylvanians, not just some. Unfortunately, our state’s stifling tax burden harms residents. Each year, government spending grows, increasing the pressure for higher taxes. These taxes weigh heavily on the state’s economy and lead to slow job and income growth. Lower taxes are the key to a stronger economy.

AUGUST 22, 2016 | Commentary by CHRIS HUGHES

State Government is Killing My Business

In 2013, I opened my first business. I’d overcome many challenges and assumed some gut-wrenching risks to get there, but I did it—and I was proud. But less than three years later, my business—my dream—is on the brink of shutting down because state government is taxing it to death.

AUGUST 17, 2016 | Policy Memo

School District Labor Contracts: Surprising Provisions

More than 1.7 million students rely on Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts to meet their diverse educational needs. School boards from each district agree to collective bargaining agreements (labor contracts) with local teachers’ unions. These labor contracts, renewed every few years through closed-door negotiations, contain various privileges for unions. This summary highlights key contract provisions that tilt the playing field toward government unions at the expense o

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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.

Will Lower Standards Help Pa. School Performance?

December 9

Pennsylvania’s primary tool for grading schools –the School Performance Profile (SPP)—is being overhauled. The current SPP is not particularly straightforward, but it’s based mainly on test scores and academic growth. At the direction of Gov. Tom Wolf, the revised SPP will become ...