Government Accountability

Union Political Spending in the 2015 Pennsylvania Elections

  • Nathan Benefield
  • November 12, 2015

The problem isn't that unions give a lot, or even that they dominate political spending. The problem is that government union dues and campaign contributions are collected at taxpayer expense…

Memo

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State Budget

Four Things to Know about Wolf’s September Tax Increase Proposal

  • Nathan Benefield
  • October 1, 2015

On September 11, 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf presented legislative leaders with a second tax increase proposal—totaling$1.8 billion for the 2015-16 budget year, and a $3.2 billion net increase in 2016-17,…

Memo

Read More: Four Things to Know about Wolf’s September Tax Increase Proposal

Regulation

Analysis of Governor Wolf’s Budget Compromise

  • September 30, 2015

On September 16, 28 days after receiving a budget compromise proposal from legislative Republicans, Gov. Wolf rejected that offer and issued his own plan—to hire a private contractor to manage the government…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Analysis of Governor Wolf’s Budget Compromise

Public Union Democracy

Bringing Democracy to Pennsylvania Labor Unions

  • Priya Brannick
  • September 22, 2015

Government unions play a large role in influencing public spending and policies at the state and local level, but they are surprisingly undemocratic within their own organizations. The practice of…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Bringing Democracy to Pennsylvania Labor Unions

Taxes & Economy

Governor Wolf’s Proposed Natural Gas Extraction Tax

  • Elizabeth Stelle
  • August 24, 2015

Gov. Tom Wolf proposed a new severance tax on natural gas extraction, which he claims will generate more than $1 billion annually for public schools. The proposal fails to consider…

Memo

Read More: Governor Wolf’s Proposed Natural Gas Extraction Tax

Principles for Liquor Privatization 2015

  • July 25, 2015

Key Points: Government should permanently get out of the business of selling alcohol and end the system in which state-run liquor stores compete against private business. Modernization fails to move…

Fact Sheet

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Regulation

Ten Facts on Pension Reform

  • June 15, 2015

Pension costs are ballooning, threatening to consume funds for education, public safety and welfare. Without timely reform, Pennsylvanians will face cuts to services, teacher layoffs, and higher property taxes. Yet…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Ten Facts on Pension Reform

Education

School Spending Update, 2013-14

  • James Paul
  • June 12, 2015

The Pennsylvania Department of Education recently released new expenditure and revenue figures for the 2013-14 school year. This memo presents trends in school spending, revenue, pension contributions, district fund balances,…

Memo

Read More: School Spending Update, 2013-14

Public Union Democracy

Opening the Curtain on Government Unions

  • Priya Brannick
  • June 9, 2015

Because such labor contracts involve billions of taxpayer dollars, citizens have a right to know what each side is proposing before being legally obligated to fund them. In addition, Pennsylvania…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Opening the Curtain on Government Unions

Education

Just the Facts: Education Spending

  • James Paul
  • May 29, 2015

Do we spend enough money on education? How much do we need to increase funding to improve results? How does Pennsylvania compare to the rest of the nation? These questions…

Poll

Read More: Just the Facts: Education Spending

Healthcare

Out of Control

  • May 27, 2015

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…

Report

Read More: Out of Control

Education

Education Spending & Academic Achievement

  • James Paul
  • May 19, 2015

Increased education spending has not led to improved academic performance. This is reflected in SAT scores and NAEP results, as well numerous studies at the state, national, and international level.

Fact Sheet

Read More: Education Spending & Academic Achievement

Public Union Democracy

Pension Reform Toolkit

  • May 12, 2015

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…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Pension Reform Toolkit

Education

Release Time: Diverting Public Resources to Unions

  • May 11, 2015

Release time allows government employees to take a leave of absence from their jobs to perform union work. Many government employees working for the union are paid by taxpayers while…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Release Time: Diverting Public Resources to Unions

Taxes & Economy

The Impact of Gov. Wolf’s Tax Proposals on Job Creation

  • James Paul, Nathan Benefield
  • May 1, 2015

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…

Memo

Read More: The Impact of Gov. Wolf’s Tax Proposals on Job Creation

Public Union Democracy

Gov. Wolf’s Stealth Unionization of Home Health Care Workers

  • Nathan Benefield
  • April 20, 2015

In 2015, Gov. Wolf issued an executive order paving the way for unionization of homecare workers in Pennsylvania. These workers provide in-home medical and personal care. Many of these workers are…

Memo

Read More: Gov. Wolf’s Stealth Unionization of Home Health Care Workers

Public Union Democracy

Prevailing Wage Reform in Pennsylvania

  • April 1, 2015

Pennsylvania’s Prevailing Wage Law was enacted in 1961, mandating that state and local governments pay construction contractors wages that “prevail” in each region on projects costing $25,000 or more. This…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Prevailing Wage Reform in Pennsylvania

State Budget

Gov. Wolf’s Proposed Property Tax Shift

  • Nathan Benefield
  • March 24, 2015

As part of his 2015-16 budget proposal, Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed using some revenue from increased state taxes for school property tax relief beginning in 2016-17. This policy brief examines…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Gov. Wolf’s Proposed Property Tax Shift

State Budget

Natural Gas Severance Tax

  • March 20, 2015

A severance tax must be considered in light of the state’s total tax structure. Pennsylvania taxes the natural gas industry in many ways that don’t exist in other drilling states.

Fact Sheet

Read More: Natural Gas Severance Tax

Government Accountability

Collective Bargaining Transparency

  • March 17, 2015

Government union contract negotiations can have far reaching implications because they set compensation for tens of thousands of public employees, costing taxpayers billions each year. Despite the enormous impact, the…

Fact Sheet

Read More: Collective Bargaining Transparency

State Budget

Summary of Governor Wolf’s 2015-2016 Budget Proposal

  • Nathan Benefield
  • March 12, 2015

General Fund spending is projected to reach $31.6 billion—the largest spending increase (8.7 percent) in 25 years. Gov. Wolf is proposing to move $1.75 billion in school pension payments to a…

Memo

Read More: Summary of Governor Wolf’s 2015-2016 Budget Proposal