Policy Report

Transforming Labor

A Comprehensive, Nationwide Comparison and Grading of Public Sector Labor Laws

Executive Summary In the last five years, Americans have seen an unprecedented sweep of public sector labor reforms across several states. Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana—and most recently, West Virginia in July 2016—have all become right-to-work states. Other states have limited the scope of collective bargaining, increased the transp

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Out of Control

How Welfare Spending is Driving the Budget Crisis

Governor Wolf is facing a budget situation more serious than any of his predecessors. His proposal includes an additional $691 million in the General Fund for DHS, bringing the department’s total to $11.9 billion. This increase accounts for nearly 89 percent of the total increase in the General Fund for all state agencies, absorbing 38.5 percent of the General Fund and 44.5 percent of all funds. If the historic pattern holds, it will be only a matter of time before Pennsylvania lawmakers will need to decide between shifting resources to human services programs and raising more taxes.

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Stopping the Sinkhole

Lessons for Pension Reform in Pennsylvania

Evidence from the private sector and some reformed public sector pension programs shows that pension reform is possible and creates significant savings to firms in the private sector and taxpayers in the public sector. Private firms, while enjoying more flexibility than public pension programs when reforming, still face many of the same challenges as public sector pensions. Therefore, as Pennsylvania considers reform, it is useful to examine the pension reform trend for insights about possible costs of reform and understand the "best practices" of pension reform.

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Blueprint for a Prosperous Pennsylvania

Over the past six fiscal years, the commonwealth has spent more than it has taken in.  This fiscal gap is projected to widen as expenditures are on pace to grow faster than future revenue. Such a structural deficit poses a threat to the very foundations of economic growth and job creation that lead to prosperity for Pennsylvania’s taxpayers.

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The Squeeze: Government Unions' Grip on Pennsylvanians

Pennsylvania's government unions wield tremendous political influence and advance policies that harm the commonwealth's taxpayers, children, and even their own members. Pennsylvania is a forced union state, meaning even workers who are not official union members must pay fees to the union as a condition of their employment. A single union usually has monopoly bargaining power with a government unit, such as a school district, preventing employees from choosing a different union or from bargaining individually. And most government units are "agency shop," requiring non-union workers to pay a fair share fee to a union in order to keep their job.

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Ending the Cycle: Reforming Welfare in Pennsylvania

Government welfare, with its goal to provide a helping hand to those in need, has instead become a vast series of programs that fall far short of the good intentions behind them. Welfare spending in the Keystone State consumes a growing share of the state budget, and is projected to crowd out spending on other government programs in the near future. In addition to being costly, too many welfare programs frequently provide low-quality care to recipients. The result is that Pennsylvania's welfare system promotes greater dependence on government - instead of independence and personal responsibility - resulting in higher, rather than reduced poverty. This doesn't have to be the case.

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Learning Revolution

The Learning Revolution

How Cyber Schools and Blended Learning Transform Students' Lives

Online learning serves a significant and growing number of students, and represents a significant shift in how we educate Pennsylvania's children.  In light of the growth of cyber and hybrid schools and the debate over their accountability, this Report seeks to help Pennsylvania residents understand more about cyber charter schools, whom they serve, and how they operate.

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Privatizing "Yellow Pages" Government

This report surveys the scope of Yellow Pages Government in Pennsylvania, looks at examples of state and local privatization throughout the country, and outlines best practices to equip lawmakers to successfully transition government out of unnecessary services by implementing a variety of models.

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Streamlining State Government

Reforming the Regulatory Structure of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania businesses must navigate a complex web of regulations from more than 340 independent state agencies, offices, state departments, boards, commissions, and committees stemming from the executive branch. Several other boards, committees, and commissions in state government primarily provide an advisory or public relations role, often with little to show for their work.

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80 Ideas for Pennsylvania

80 Ideas for a Prosperous Pennsylvania

A Blueprint for Transforming the Commonwealth

Pennsylvania must undergo a rapid transformation to reverse the poor policy decisions that have eroded economic freedoms and brought the state to its present condition.  To provide a roadmap for success in this critical endeavor, the Commonwealth Foundation has compiled a list of 80 policy recommendations for Gov. Corbett and state legislators to help lead a Pennsylvania comeback.  Each of these recommendations links to Commonwealth Foundation research with more information on each issue.  Collectively, these recommendations represent a "A Blueprint for Transforming the Commonwealth," which can be found at CommonwealthFoundation.org/BluePrint.

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