Publications

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

Marc Stier, Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, released the following statement on the passage of the U.S. Senate GOP tax bill: 

"Budgets are, it is frequently said, moral documents. If that is true, and we believe it is, then the tax plan adopted by the Senate today represents an extreme moral failure on the part of the Republican Party. At a time when incomes are becoming ever more unequal, the Republican tax plan will ultimately make the rich richer and the poor and middle class poorer. It will benefit corporations at the expense of families. And, because of the repeal of the individual mandate, it will cost 13 million people nationwide — and 500,000 in Pennsylvania — health insurance leading to 1000 to 2000 premature deaths in our state alone. 

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.

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. 

Pennsylvania must brace itself for a substantial decrease in federal Medicaid payments that would devastate our state budget and cause massive losses in Medicaid coverage as the Senate moves to pass a version of the House’s American Health Care Act. Under the leadership of Pennsylvania’s own junior senator, Pat Toomey, that version of the bill has significantly deeper cuts to Medicaid than the House bill. 

The 14 four-year universities within Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education have been a pivotal engine of upward mobility for working families in Pennsylvania for decades. Today, the role of these schools in making the American Dream a reality for a hundred thousand Pennsylvanians each generation is threatened. Deep cuts in state funding coupled with living expenses on campus that have risen faster than tuition are threatening to put State System schools beyond the financial reach of many moderate-income families. 

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