68% say things in Pennsylvania have “pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track”
More than 8-in-10 respondents support overhauling education, taxes, and employee rights
Commonwealth Foundation’s 23-point legislative plan enjoys broad bipartisan support from every region in the state
59% are much more likely to support a political candidate who backs the Commonwealth Foundation 2023 legislative agenda
HARRISBURG, PENN. – Pennsylvania residents are not satisfied with the status quo in Harrisburg. Nearly 70 percent of respondents in a recent statewide poll said the state was on the wrong track—with a whopping 42 percent saying they had considered moving to another state or personally knew someone who had already relocated or contemplated moving.
But the same poll also shows that policymakers looking to create a new pathway to prosperity will find broad support for the Commonwealth Foundation’s 23-point reform agenda to improve education, protect taxpayers and workers, and make Pennsylvania a more prosperous and safer state.
Indeed, 86 percent of survey participants expressed support for the Commonwealth Foundation’s reform agenda—How to Create a Better Pennsylvania 2023—which was released today.
“America’s story began in Pennsylvania, but our state has fallen behind,” states to the report. “Families are leaving for better jobs, educational opportunities, and quality of life in other states. But in 2023, policymakers can usher in a new era of prosperity for Pennsylvania.”
“Our state’s leaders need to get serious about helping make Pennsylvania a family and business friendly state where everyone has an opportunity to prosper and live fulfilling lives,” said Jennifer Stefano, Commonwealth Foundation executive vice president. “Our Better Pennsylvania in 2023 is the roadmap that will get us there.
“With two-thirds of voters believing Pennsylvania is seriously off track, a bold agenda is needed in 2023,” said Stefano. “We’re providing our roadmap to all state lawmakers and candidates for state office. We hope to help them understand the issues holding Pennsylvanians back, and to focus their attention on solutions that get Harrisburg and ineffective policies out of the way of a more prosperous Pennsylvania.”
The Commonwealth Foundation is sharing its 23-point agenda with state lawmakers and candidates seeking state office in the November 2023 election.
“If lawmakers or those running for office want to make life better for Pennsylvanians, they’ll adopt these polices and ensure everyone has an opportunity to flourish,” said Stefano. “2023 is a critical year for getting Pennsylvania back on track. A Better Pennsylvania in 2023 is a roadmap to get there.”
Below are several policy proposals included in the Commonwealth Foundation report, as well as the level of public support for each policy.
|EXCELLENT EDUCATION FOR ALL
|Expanding tax credit scholarships, which allow businesses to donate money to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships to low-income and middle-income children in Pennsylvania to attend pre-kindergarten or K-12 private school.
|Creating education opportunity accounts, a government-funded account that parents can use for restricted educational expenses, including tuition, tutoring, online education programs, and therapies for students with special needs.
|Establishing an independent authorizer for charter schools, such as a state board or universities, which would approve and renew charter schools; rather than the current system in which only school districts can approve charter schools.
|Creating an A through F grading system that would give every one of Pennsylvania’s K through 12 schools a grade based on factors including state achievement, learning gains in assessment scores and graduation rates.
|UNLEASH A MORE PROSPEROUS PENNSYLVANIA
|Passing a state constitutional amendment that would limit increases in government spending to the rate of inflation plus the rate of population growth. The limit could be exceeded with agreement from two-thirds of both houses of the General Assembly.
|Lowering Pennsylvania’s tax rate for all business by eliminating $1 billion in state government funded subsidies to select companies.
|Requiring a vote by the state legislature to approve any new state regulation that would cost more than $1 million.
|Withdrawing Pennsylvania from the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative because Governor Wolf entered into the agreement without legislative approval, and because it imposes additional taxes on electricity production.
|PROTECT THE DIGNITY OF WORK
|Requiring healthy adults (excluding seniors, individuals with disabilities, and those with young children) who receive welfare benefits to work, seek work or job training, or volunteer in their communities to continue receiving benefits.
|Ensuring that individuals are eligible for welfare by verifying income, residency and household composition twice a year.
|Granting Pennsylvania businesses and individuals tax credits for donations to approved charitable organizations that provide basic needs such as childcare, medical care, food, clothing, shelter, and job placement.
|Allowing certified nurse practitioners in Pennsylvania to work without the supervision of a doctor to increase access to health care.
|Tying the length of time an individual can receive unemployment benefits to economic conditions. For example, shorter benefit periods when the unemployment rate is low; and longer benefit periods during a recession. This would encourage work and help shore up Pennsylvania’s depleted unemployment trust fund.
|MAKE GOVERNMENT MORE ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT
|Enrolling all newly hired government employees into a 401(k)-style retirement plan, similar to what most employees in the private sector receive, instead of a guaranteed pension for life, to create predictable and affordable retirement benefits.
|Removing government control of the sale and distribution of wine and liquor by selling all state-run liquor stores, and allowing private retail stores and wholesalers to sell alcohol.
|Modernizing Pennsylvania election laws to include voter identification; clear voting deadlines; and limits on private, third-party funding of elections.
|PRIORITIZE RESOURCES FOR SAFER COMMUNITIES
|Reforming Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system to encourage alternatives to institutionalization, such as community-based rehabilitation programs for first-time and low-risk offenders.
|Reducing outdated Pennsylvania licensing restrictions that prevent anyone with a criminal conviction who has paid their debt to society from getting a job.
|RESTORE PUBLIC SECTOR WORKERS’ RIGHTS
|Stopping the use of taxpayer-funded public payroll systems to collect campaign contributions and other funds that government union leaders use for political purposes.
|Requiring state and local governments to post labor contracts before voting on them, to give taxpayers transparency on the cost of government union contracts.
|Requiring regular elections for government employees to vote on their union representation, something that has not happened for more than 30 years.
|Requiring state and local governments notify all employees of their legal rights to join or not join a union.
|Allowing government union members the right to end their union membership at any time.
The survey was completed May 12-18, 2022, among 600 registered Pennsylvania voters and has a credibility interval of +4.56%.
Includes “strong support” and “somewhat support” responses.