New report finds expanded Medicaid would support tens of thousands of new jobs, generate billions in economic activity and result in a net positive impact on the state budget between 2016 and 2022. ...Read more
Wages have largely stagnated over the past three decades. There has also been a sharp slowdown in gains in educational attainment and reduced rates of public investments, and fading returns to those investments. The crisis in state budgets and the requirement that they balance budgets each year threatens to compound this — forcing cuts in critical public investment projects that determine our future prosperity, and that of our children. ...Read more
Today, two out of every five Pennsylvanians live in a municipality in fiscal distress. As this number continues to grow, it is slowly and steadily undermining the commonwealth’s reputation as a stable place to raise a family or build a business. A common response to this trend has been to say, “its the bigger governments – places like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Reading – that are in real financial trouble.” This point has also been used to fight against local government consolidation (even sharing of services or resources) noting that if bigger government is better why then are city governments in financial distress? Older cities are pitted against newer suburbs, with the leadership of urban communities painted as poster children for poor fiscal discipline. This politically favorable, if self-forgiving, narrative has replaced reality in our public discourse on this issue. ...Read more
The fact is that most cities studied in a recent Pennsylvania Economy League report did not generate enough tax money (from all sources of taxation) to pay for their fire department and their police department, let alone any other services. Most people find that statistic staggering, but it’s true. Easton, Lancaster, Reading, and York don’t generate enough tax revenues to cover the cost of their public safety departments, let alone provide parks, libraries or snowplowing. ...Read more
Maybe it’s time to give up on Camden remaining a municipality. A failed state takeover barely moved the city closer to being a self-sustaining entity. And new solutions proposed for Camden seem to have little chance of being implemented soon enough to keep it from strangling in debt. ...Read more