Subscribe to E-Update here.

Grass-roots Activism Changing Liquor Debate

The hundreds of protesters representing working families, who have crowded the Capitol in the past month, are taking a toll on the push to privatize the state liquor store system.

By making the public aware of the true cost of privatization, in terms of jobs and lost state revenue, labor groups, law enforcement officials and concerned citizens have changed the tide of public opinion, forcing the General Assembly to back away quickly from House Bill 790.

Although Gov. Corbett has made easy liquor a priority, it’s becoming clear that the popularity of both the plan and the governor are plummeting.

As the last week before the budget deadline approaches, it’s clear that Pennsylvania is facing a number of critical decisions on emerging crises and making alcohol easier to get is not one of them.

The alcohol expansion plan revealed this week by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney of Bucks County, appeared to me to be an attempt to gloss over the real problems with privatization while trying to appease the governor.

Earlier this week, I released a statement on the plan, and it seems certain that if the governor continues to focus pretending to preserve jobs and allow the big-box booza-palooza the governor envisions.on liquor and ignore schools, roads, bridges, and health care, he will continue to suffer the public wrath.

In the meantime, congratulations to the people who took the time to come to Harrisburg to make themselves heard.  In the future, when family sustaining jobs are endangered by heavy-spending corporations, we can look back on this fight as inspiration to keep working to preserve the middle class. 

This isn’t over, but the momentum is now on our side.


PA Last Among Neighbors in Job Growth, 45th in U.S.

The numbers only get worse for the Corbett administration and its big-business based theories.

Job figures released by the U.S. Labor Department show Pennsylvania dead last in job growth among its bordering states and 45th in the country during the time since Gov. Corbett was inaugurated (January 2011).

Pennsylvania's unemployment rate, however, dipped slightly to 7.5 percent, marking the first time in 10 months that our unemployment rate was lower than the national average (7.6 percent). But we're a long way behind the rest of the nation in terms of recovering jobs.


Rank % Growth 01/11-04/13 State Total Emp  Jan. 2011 Total Emp May 2013 Net Emp Growth Net % Change
1 New Jersey            3,835            3,962          127.70 3.33%
2 New York            8,620            8,897          277.00 3.21%
3 Maryland            2,532            2,609            77.20 3.05%
4 Ohio            5,062            5,214          152.00 3.00%
5 West Virginia               748               770            21.90 2.93%
6 Delaware               418               425              7.20 1.72%
7 Pennsylvania         5,665         5,740            75.10 1.33%
Total       26,879       27,617       738.10 2.75%

Medicaid Expansion Likely to See a Vote This Week

Senate Republican leaders have said they will allow a Senate vote on Medicaid expansion in the upcoming week, after three independent studies have shown hard-to-argue-with data that accepting the expansion funding from the federal government would benefit hundreds of thousands of uninsured while boosting the state’s economy.


You can read the reports here:

The Rand Corporation

The Pennsylvania Health Law Project

Pennsylvania’s Independent Fiscal Office

Embattled Pension Reform Bill Clears Committee

The Senate Finance Committee passed a pension reform bill by a partisan 6-5 vote this week after amending it to avoid a long, ill-fated court fight over current employees.

Senate Bill 922 started out as the Corbett pension reform plan, but has been amended to exclude tampering with the pensions of current employees, as well as state police – who face mandatory retirement ages - and prison guards.

The bill would still shift future employees to a 401(k) pension, which might make a good sound bite but will end up costing taxpayers billions.   The pension fund is already underfunded because of the failure of the state to contribute its share in a declining economy. 

Without the revenue from new contributors, the bill – as state Treasurer Rob McCord put it – “makes a big problem worse.”

Senate Bill 922 goes to the Appropriations Committee this week, where it will face a tough look at the numbers. Click here to see Keystone Research's assessment of Corbett pension "reform."

Plight of Schools Becomes Political Game

Negotiations are underway to find a solution to the budget problems facing Philadelphia schools, where thousands of layoff notices have gone out over the past month.

The dire condition of the schools and the funding problems they face hasn’t stopped right-wing groups and their corporate backers from trying to take advantage.  Recent news reports described a leaked document urging Gov. Corbett to demonize Philadelphia teachers unions as a way of restoring his flagging popularity.

That might make sense for the far right, but the fact that schools in cities across Pennsylvania are facing similar problems tends to refute the argument that teachers are to blame.

Across the state, teachers have agreed to taking on more work for less pay.  They have done their part. And more.

It’s now time for the majority in the General Assembly to realize that investment in public education pays off for this and subsequent administrations.








Watch Live PA & U.S. UNEMPLOYMENT RATE (6/12 - 2/13)