Reports & Briefing Papers

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center produces a variety of reports, policy briefs, and other publications on state budget and tax policy, health care policy, education policy, poverty and public welfare, the economy, and several related issues. Below is an archive of all PBPC publications to date.

Browse by Issue: You can also browse PBPC publications by the following issue areas:

Tax and Budget     |     Education     |     Health and Family Security     |     PA Economy     |     Democracy

In 2014, Pennsylvania became the second-largest natural gas producer in the U.S. and remains so today, behind only Texas.  In 2017, gas production exceeded 5.3 trillion cubic feet and continues to rise. Despite rising production, Pennsylvania remains the only major gas-producing state that allows companies to drill without paying taxes that increase with the volume of gas extracted. 

Last year, Mayor Jim Kenney boldly called for the School Reform Commission (SRC) to be disbanded and for control over our schools to be returned to the city. In doing so, he took on the responsibility to pay for schools at a time when growing deficits are expected over the next five years. 

We at PBPC have long argued that the education of Philadelphians shouldn't be a responsibility of the city alone. Not just Philadelphia but the entire commonwealth suffers because the state share of education funding has fallen from almost 50% to less than 35% of total funding.  

Three recent briefs by the Keystone Research Center laid out the case for more affordable access to post-secondary education in Pennsylvania.  The global race for raising incomes and increasing opportunity hinges critically on access to post-secondary education and training. If Pennsylvania does not expand access to higher education to more of its citizens, the Commonwealth’s economy will suffer and living standards will lag behind growth elsewhere. With a modest and smart investment, Pennsylvania can build a more prosperous future for its citizens and reinvigorate the American Dream in every corner of the keystone state. “The Pennsylvania Promise,” outlined below, shows how.

In the past several months, Pennsylvania’s legislature has shown renewed interest in enacting a severance tax on natural gas extraction as part of the state’s overdue revenue package to fund the state budget. In that context, the natural gas industry has maintained a steady drumbeat of communications claiming that Pennsylvania already has a tax on gas extraction because of its per well impact fee which does not rise with the volume or value of gas drilled. The industry and its allies also continue to claim that Pennsylvania’s impact fee amounts to a tax that is higher (relative to the volume or value of gas produced) than the severance taxes in many other states.

Republican members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, with the support of outside advocates, are moving to announce plan to borrow massively, perhaps up to more than $2 billion, from many of the 100 or so special funds that, along with the General Fund, are part of the state budget. Their justification for doing so is that, at the end of each year, many of these funds have a surplus. So it seems easy enough to shift those surpluses – money they are quick to say is “just sitting there not doing anything” – into the General Fund.

Forthcoming proposals by the House Republicans and the Commonwealth Foundation to balance the current year budget by raiding over $2 billion from other state funds is budget gimmickry on steroids, which does not solve the state’s structural deficit and makes it worse in future years. It will also undercut the purpose of many state funds and lead to a co-mingling of operating and capital funds, which is bad budget practice.

Pennsylvania’s public four-year colleges currently confront a funding and enrollment crisis, with three of the most distressed Universities in northern and western Pennsylvania regions that lack community colleges. This crisis presents Pennsylvania, and its state legislators: do they want to continue the policies of the past three decades, which have massively underfunded post-secondary education, particularly in rural Pennsylvania? Or do they want to use the crisis of the State System as a wake-up call – a reason to address the state’s post-secondary education deficit, and a vital step to avoiding a downward spiral for many of Pennsylvania’s rural areas? This brief argues that lawmakers should take the latter course. 

Later this week or next we should get a CBO score of the latest Senate health care bill and we will revise, once again, our projections for its impact on Pennsylvania. But, we are not expecting major changes in anything but in how long it takes for well over a million fewer Pennsylvanians to have insurance as a result of the bill. To see why, one must step away from some of the details of the bill and look at the big picture, focusing not just on the policy but the politics of the bill. 

From that perspective, it is pretty obvious why the Republican approach to repealing and replacing the ACA – and drastically reducing the size of the Medicaid program – can’t be fixed. 

Monthly archive