Nathan Benefield

Nathan Benefield

Senior Vice President

Nathan (Nate) Benefield is the Senior Vice President at the Commonwealth Foundation.

An Ohio native, Nate holds an undergraduate degree in political science and economics and a master’s degree in public service management from DePaul University in Chicago. He also completed his doctoral studies (ABD) in political science at Loyola University, also in Chicago.

Nate joined the Commonwealth Foundation in 2005. Now as senior vice president, he provides strategic leadership as well as operational oversight spanning policy analysis, government relations, marketing, and communications.

Nate has researched and written extensively on public policy issues including the state budget, public sector labor reform, government spending and taxes, liquor privatization, education, and economic development. Under Nate’s policy leadership, the Commonwealth Foundation’s work on public sector pension law helped drive the bipartisan pension reform of 2017, heralded by the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post as an example for other states to follow.

Nate has testified numerous times before state legislative committees and is often called upon by legislators and members of the media to provide expertise. He is a frequent commentator on both television and radio, and his writings have appeared across the state and nationally in outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Patriot-News, and Weekly Standard.

Nate’s favorite rock song and personal motto are both “Don’t Stop Believin.”

Healthcare

Obamacare’s Cost Increase Aren’t “Just Fine”

  • Nathan Benefield
  • June 15, 2017

This week, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller sent a letter suggesting that an 8.8 percent increase in insurance premiums next year was a good thing, and…

Media

Read More: Obamacare’s Cost Increase Aren’t “Just Fine”

Criminal Justice Reform

Policy Memo: Principles for State Budget

  • Nathan Benefield
  • June 14, 2017

With the 2017 budget, lawmakers have an opportunity to double down on the idea of reinventing government and adopt meaningful reforms that will save taxpayers money, stimulate economic growth, and improve services…

Memo

Read More: Policy Memo: Principles for State Budget

Regulation

Teachers Need Pension Reform Too

  • Nathan Benefield
  • June 6, 2017

Pension reform is critical for teachers as well as taxpayers, according to a new report from PennCAN. Among the key findings of this report is how pension costs…

Media

Read More: Teachers Need Pension Reform Too

Regulation

SB 1 is Major First Step on Pension Reform

  • Nathan Benefield
  • June 5, 2017

Yesterday, Elizabeth wrote about the reasons we need pension reform now. As the full Senate prepares to vote on SB 1, I wanted to provide some clarity on this…

Media

Read More: SB 1 is Major First Step on Pension Reform

Regulation

Op-Ed: Zippo Lights the Way on Pension Reform

  • Nathan Benefield
  • May 25, 2017

When you think of lighters, you probably think of Zippo. Recently, the company announced a move that shines light of a different kind: Zippo is transitioning from pension plans for its…

Commentary

Read More: Op-Ed: Zippo Lights the Way on Pension Reform

Regulation

Liquor “Modernization” a Financial Flop

  • Nathan Benefield
  • May 12, 2017

Last year, the legislature enacted a law allowing restaurants and a small number of grocery stores to sell wine and “modernizing” the government liquor stores to “run more like…

Media

Read More: Liquor “Modernization” a Financial Flop

Taxes & Economy

Perception v. Reality Check on Pennsylvania’s Economy

  • Nathan Benefield
  • May 4, 2017

Yesterday, Elizabeth noted how Pennsylvania lost 13,000 college-educated millennials to other states in 2015. Overall, Pennsylvania lost 45,000 residents in interstate migration last year. Why are millennials and…

Media

Read More: Perception v. Reality Check on Pennsylvania’s Economy

Double-Down on Reinventing Government

  • Nathan Benefield
  • April 27, 2017

What's different about Wolf's third budget address? Record-setting income and sales tax increases? Gone. Partisan rhetoric? Mollified. Massive spending hikes? Absent. Instead, Wolf targeted bureaucratic waste to close the ever-widening…

Commentary

Read More: Double-Down on Reinventing Government

Government Accountability

Senate Moves Key Transparency Measures

  • Nathan Benefield
  • April 25, 2017

Today the Senate's State Government Committee advanced three bills to open up government collective bargaining negotiations to the public. SB 168, sponsored by Sen. Pat Stefano, would require all levels of government…

Media

Read More: Senate Moves Key Transparency Measures

When a Spending Increase Is a Massive Cut

  • Nathan Benefield
  • April 11, 2017

Last June, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a $31.53 billion General Fund budget. In February, Gov. Wolf proposed a $32.34 billion budget. This $800 million increase has actually been labeled “…

Media

Read More: When a Spending Increase Is a Massive Cut

Education

The Cost of Pennsylvania’s Pension Crisis

  • Nathan Benefield
  • March 8, 2017

In recent Appropriation Committee hearings, Pennsylvania’s two statewide pension funds (PSERS and SERS) reported $62.2 billion in unfunded liabilities (or debt) that taxpayers must pay. This number—which assumes…

Media

Read More: The Cost of Pennsylvania’s Pension Crisis

Healthcare

Obamacare: Say No to Status Quo

  • Nathan Benefield
  • March 7, 2017

A recent WSJ/NBC poll shows almost everyone supports reforming Obamacare. Only 4% think Obamacare is working well as is. A majority (52%) think it needs a major overhaul or…

Media

Read More: Obamacare: Say No to Status Quo

Healthcare

Double-Down on Reinventing Government

  • Nathan Benefield
  • February 23, 2017

Imagine if Stephen King had written Green Eggs and Ham. What if Dr. Seuss had penned The Shining? Gov. Wolf’s third budget address was an equally disorienting shift in tone…

Media

Read More: Double-Down on Reinventing Government

Regulation

Employee Compensation Drives Spending Growth

  • Nathan Benefield
  • February 21, 2017

PennLive released a list of state government employees earning more than $100,000 in salary today. While the list should open some eyes, it doesn’t capture the full cost of…

Media

Read More: Employee Compensation Drives Spending Growth

State Budget

Five Takeaways From the Governors Budget Proposal

  • Nathan Benefield
  • February 7, 2017

This morning Governor Wolf laid out his plan for the 2017-18 state budget. Here are the five things you need to know: 1. Shift to redesigning government. This is a…

Media

Read More: Five Takeaways From the Governors Budget Proposal

Public Union Democracy

Paycheck Protection Passes Senate Committee

  • Nathan Benefield
  • January 31, 2017

The Senate State Government Committee today passed paycheck protection, which ends the special privilege that lets government union leaders use public resources to collect money earmarked for politics.  Since…

Media

Read More: Paycheck Protection Passes Senate Committee

State Budget

An Early Christmas Present from Gov. Wolf

  • Nathan Benefield
  • December 22, 2016

Yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf indicated he would not propose an income tax or a sales tax increase as part of his next budget. This comes as something of…

Media

Read More: An Early Christmas Present from Gov. Wolf

Regulation

Who Pays for SEPTA?

  • Nathan Benefield
  • November 7, 2016

News reports today indicate SEPTA (the public transit agency serving the Philadelphia region) came to an agreement with the Transportation Workers Union Local 234—ending a six-day strike just before election…

Media

Read More: Who Pays for SEPTA?

Education

APSCUF Threatens Faculty

  • Nathan Benefield
  • October 19, 2016

This morning, APSCUF, the union representing 5,000 faculty at the State System of Higher Education schools, went on strike. As we pointed out a few weeks ago, one…

Media

Read More: APSCUF Threatens Faculty

Government Accountability

New Labor Contracts Will Add to Taxpayers’ Burden

  • Nathan Benefield
  • September 28, 2016

New union contracts will make state government more expensive, according to two analyses released by the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO). The IFO projects contracts negotiated by the Wolf Administration…

Media

Read More: New Labor Contracts Will Add to Taxpayers’ Burden