IssuesPA Government Reform

Government Reform

With any luck, we're welcoming a number of readers back to IssuesPA in addition to new readers. If you take the Way Back Machine with us to 2002, it's clear that much in the world has evolved: ...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
Will 2011 mark massive Athens- and Paris-like street demonstrations as American state and local government workers protest recession-triggered cuts in their pay and retirement benefits? Some are making that prediction. I don’t, because I don’t believe the public will be with the workers. For good or ill, we chronically regard government — and its employees — as “somebody else,” not “us.” We exhibit little of the class or cultural solidarity that undergirded the protests in Europe. But there’s no doubt that a major showdown on public sector wages and benefits is at hand. On the very day of his inauguration, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York agreed to an order by his predecessor to lay off 900 state workers because union leaders had refused to agree to $250 million in concessions. ...Read more
They'd like to avoid what happened to Reading and is about to happen to Harrisburg. ...Read more
Michigan government's two largest pension systems — the Michigan Public School Employees' Retirement System and the Michigan State Employees' Retirement System — offer their members benefits that are out of line with those in Michigan's private sector and are unlikely to prove affordable in the long-term, according to a new study published by the Mackinac Center last month. ...Read more
By January 12, 2012, the number of Earned Income Tax collectors will have decreased more than 85%, from 560 to just 69. ...Read more
Luzerne County voters approved adopting a home rule charter for county government. The three, full-time elected commissioners will be replaced with 11 part-time elected council members and an appointed manager starting January 2012. Nine elected row offices will be eliminated, with their duties assumed by employees. ...Read more
A slide presentation describing the political nature of pension funds and the effects of same. ...Read more
The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce joins business community representatives from across the state testifying at House Local Government Committee Hearing. ...Read more