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Policy Brief


    Thu, April 24, 2014

    The Blaze Q ~A with Dr. Paul Kengor


    Editor's note: A longer version of this Q&A first appeared at TheBlaze.com.

    What do you most hope that readers take away from your book?

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 10, 2014

    What Happened to Pittsburgh Job Strength?


    (April 10, 2014)--The Department of Labor and Industry recently released preliminary employment data for February. Unfortunately, the latest numbers for the Pittsburgh metro area are not very good, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 02, 2014

    The Problem of School Absenteeism


    (April 2, 2014)--Many studies showing the negative effect of absenteeism on academic achievement have been carried out over the last 40 years. Ideas to reduce chronic absenteeism and truancy have ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 27, 2014

    Lessons from Pittsburgh Cab-Rideshare Battle



    (March 27, 2014)--Will ridesharing–the transportation model in which prospective riders arrange for trips via smartphone on prepaid accounts with drivers who operate their own ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, March 24, 2014

    Mt. Lebanon Property Assessments


    (March 24, 2014)--Talk about déjà vu: the municipal government in Mt. Lebanon is appealing the assessed values of recently sold homes for which the sales price was well above the assessed value ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 20, 2014

    Shocking Revisions to Pittsburg Employment Numbers



    (March 20, 2014)--Jobs numbers released on March 18th that incorporated a data re-benchmarking by the Department of Labor and Industry and the Bureau of Labor Statistics paint a dramatically ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 18, 2014

    Marcellus Impact Fee: What's Happening?


    (March 18, 2014)--Act 13 of 2012 imposed an impact fee on natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale reserve lying beneath the Commonwealth. The levied fee is based on the price of natural gas as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 11, 2014

    ACT 88 Impact on Port Authority



    (March 11, 2014)--Last November, the long awaited and hotly debated transportation bill, now referred to as Act 89, was passed. There is enough information now available to lay out with some ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 04, 2014

    Is State Education Funding Unfair?


    (March 4, 2014)--Near the end of January, at a public appearance in Harrisburg, the Governor announced that he wanted to alter the way the state funds public education. He stated "let's get a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 25, 2014

    An Education Proposal for Pittsburgh


    (February 25, 2014)--Back in 2007, Mayor Peduto's predecessor, along with the Superintendent of Pittsburgh schools and the head of UPMC, worked to put together the Pittsburgh Promise program, wherein ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 18, 2014

    Pittsburgh International Still Struggling


    (February 18, 2014)--Pittsburgh International Airport's (PIT) struggles to grow passenger counts and flights have been well chronicled in past Policy Briefs. One obvious culprit has been the high ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 05, 2014

    Transportation Bill Brings Change


    (February 5, 2014)--Act 89 of 2013, otherwise known as the transportation bill, contained major changes that will affect Pennsylvania motorists and taxpayers in the form of higher taxes, fees, and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 31, 2014

    PAT's Coming Windfall


    (January 31, 2014)--The long sought after special "funding" stream has become reality for the Port Authority (PAT). A funding stream that had been was lobbied for by a number of groups in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 30, 2014

    F&M Poll


    Franklin ~Marshall College Poll

    The 23rd year of consecutive polling in Pennsylvania


    Below are the highlights of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 29, 2014

    Has Mt. Lebanon TIF Saga Ended?


    (January 29, 2014)--For more than a decade developers have been attempting to develop a prime piece of real estate on the corner of Bower Hill Road and Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon. The parcel, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 17, 2014

    Static Over TV Program Funding


    When the state legalized casino gaming and decided to dedicate a portion of the taxes to help fund economic development, specifically designated funds were allocated to Allegheny County and the City ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 13, 2014

    Another Year, Another Hike in Turnpike Tolls


    (January 13, 2014)--Another year and another toll increase for users of Pennsylvania's Turnpike system. For the sixth consecutive year, tolls will rise for travelers paying with cash (E-Z Pass fares ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 08, 2014

    Who is Right Regarding Pittsburgh's Distressed Status?


    (January 8, 2014)--Whose opinion on whether the City of Pittsburgh should remain in Act 47 fiscal distress should count more–the newly sworn in chief executive of the City who wants the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 26, 2013

    Key Details of Transportation Bill


    Policy Brief Volume 13, Number 59 calculated the impact of the transportation bill on taxes on diesel fuel, defined by Title 75 subsection 9002 as "Fuels", and not for gasoline ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 19, 2013

    The Value of Just Showing Up


    Something interesting happened in a school district in western Pennsylvania: the taxpayers actually won.

    According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review:

    "A longtime ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 05, 2013

    PSEA Funded Anti-GOP Group


    Union Gave $650,000 from Teachers' Dues to Anti-Republican Group

    DECEMBER 5, 2013 | by PRIYA ABRAHAM

    Remember the shadowy group, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 04, 2013

    Pittsburgh School Spending


    (December 4, 2013)--For several years the Allegheny Institute has called attention to the Pittsburgh School District's per pupil expenditures of more than $20,000. The preliminary 2014 budget calls ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 19, 2013

    911: A State of Financial Emergency?


    (November 19, 2013)--In September the Pennsylvania House Committee on Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness visited Allegheny County to conduct the third in a series of hearings across the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 12, 2013

    Will Legislature Finally Amend Prevailing Wage Law?


    (November 12, 2013)--With wrangling over transportation legislation expected to resume now that election season is over, a surprise topic will be possible changes in Pennsylvania's prevailing wage ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 05, 2013

    Pittsburgh School Enrollment Decline No Surprise


    (November 5, 2013)--In something of a surprise to school officials and the promoters of public schools in Pittsburgh, enrollment in the District fell for the school year just underway. They had ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 29, 2013

    County Drink Tax for Mon Valley Shuttle?


    (October 29, 2013)--As the General Assembly debates funding for transportation for roads and bridges as well as mass transit, many have an interest in seeing it resolved. One interested group is the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 21, 2013

    PA Slots Revenue Weakened


    (October 21, 2013)--When the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) released the slot machine revenue report for September, it noted that statewide revenues were six percent lower than they had ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 17, 2013

    NFIB Video Takes on Union Dues Deductions


    Tue, October 15, 2013

    Tax Foundation Updates Flawed State Ranking


    (October 15, 2013)--Each year the Washington DC based Tax Foundation releases its State Business Tax Climate ranking report. For the past several years Pennsylvania has done reasonably well according ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 08, 2013

    How Fares the PA Economy?


    (October 8, 2013)--Two recent surveys suggest the business community remains guarded about economic conditions. The PNC Bank survey of small businesses found that almost 9 in 10 Pennsylvania firms ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 04, 2013

    Constructing a Gaming Money Ledger


    (October 3, 2013)--As of September 1, 2013, accumulated gaming revenue from slots and table games amounting to nearly $700 million had been distributed in Allegheny County.

    Most of it ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 03, 2013

    How is Prioritizing Spending on Bridges Offensive?


    October 3, 2013:

    One of the top priorities for the Governor and the Senate has been the passage of a transportation bill. Before they went on summer vacation, the Senate passed a massive ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 30, 2013

    Looking Anew at School District Mergers


    September 30, 2013)--In 2009, Beaver County school districts Center Area and Monaca merged to become Central Valley. It was the first voluntary merger in decades. At the time, state officials ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 25, 2013

    Tackle Highway Funding, Mass Transit Separately


    (September 25, 2013)--One of the reasons transportation funding bills are so hard to get passed is their complexity. They present political problems in trying to please too many constituencies ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 19, 2013

    PennDOT Has Critical Role in PAT's Future


    (September 19, 2013)--The last piece of legislation signed into law before the General Assembly's summer recess was Act 72, an act that made significant changes in the size, appointment, tenure, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 05, 2013

    Pittsburgh Area Job Gains Good


    (September 4, 2013)--Over the last twelve months–July 2012 to July 2013 (the latest available figures)–private sector employment in the Pittsburgh seven county metro area climbed by ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 29, 2013

    Familiar Threads in Harrisburg Recovery Plan


    (August 28, 2013)--Over three years ago, in February 2010, we asked if the debt related to a trash incinerator was pervasive enough to cause a municipal bankruptcy filing–colloquially, that the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 01, 2013

    Will ACA Bail on Unfunded Municicpal Retiree Health Benefits?


    (August 1, 2013)--Detroit and Chicago have announced plans to offload their unfunded retiree health plans onto the Affordable Care Act exchanges. The Detroit announcement predated the July 18th ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 31, 2013

    Philly Dems Pick Union Boss to Negotiate with Himself


    July 31, 2013:

    First a little background. The Philadelphia Convention Center is not doing too well booking events there.

    A consistent theme has been the poor service that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 22, 2013

    Major Changes in PAT Board


    (July 19, 2013)--The Governor has signed legislation that will dramatically alter the board of directors of the Port Authority (PAT). What was a nine member body with members serving staggered five ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 11, 2013

    Analyzing Teacher Strikes in PA


    (July 11, 2013)--Believe it or not, for the first time since the 1970s–as far back as reliable data is available–Pennsylvania might have just had its first school year without a teacher ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, July 09, 2013

    Egypt Confronts Modernity


    Q&A with Herbert Meyer Special assistant to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency during the Reagan Administration, Herbert Meyer, comments on the turmoil in Egypt in this Q&A from the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 03, 2013

    A Third Sensible, On-Time State Budget


    A Third Sensible and On-Time State Budget
    The good news is that the General Assembly sent Governor Corbett a $27.83 billion budget that supports record investment in education, including ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 03, 2013

    Is the Pittsburgh Promise Not Enough?


    (July 3, 2013)--Begun six years ago with great fanfare and grandiose goals, the Pittsburgh Promise seems to be falling well short of its primary objectives to improve the quality of education and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 28, 2013

    Rural and Urban Roads


    (June 28, 2013)--In an informational piece put out by the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the point is made that "…in densely ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 27, 2013

    Pension Costs Just a Guess


    HARRISBURG — Today, the Commonwealth Foundation offered perspective on new reports and upcoming analysis from the Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) about pension reform legislation. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 27, 2013

    Transportation Amendment Serious About Costs


    (June 26, 2013)--According to newspaper accounts, the proposed House amendment to the transportation funding legislation takes a very sensible and long overdue approach to difficult issues that have ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 26, 2013

    Obama Energy Strategy Falls Short of Rhetoric


    The head of the Pennsylvania Coal Alliance (PCA) said President Obama needs
    some major retooling of the environmental strategy he announced in a policy
    address on June 25, 2013 if he wants ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 19, 2013

    Pension Obligations Taxing Property Owners


    (June 19, 2013)--Pension problems facing school districts have come home to roost. As we wrote in a recent blog: "Unless there is agreement on pension reform legislation…most school ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 17, 2013

    Shortchanging Education?


    (June 17, 2013)--To no one's surprise the head of the state's largest teachers' union is again complaining about the unwillingness of the state to replace the Federal stimulus spending that ended in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 12, 2013

    Port Authority Board Bill Moves Forward


    (June 12, 2013)--By a 16 to 10 vote in the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 10th, Senate Bill 700 took another step toward becoming law. Of course, the full Senate has to consider it and, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 05, 2013

    Legislative Plate is Full


    (June 5, 2013)--To say the General Assembly has a lot on its plate is a colossal understatement. Liquor store privatization, the budget, transportation, and pension reform along with many other less ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 30, 2013

    Marcellus Royalty Payments Rising Rapidly


    (May 30, 2013) From all accounts natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation has been an economic boon for Pennsylvania. While the exact overall impact may be up for debate, what is not ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 08, 2013

    Legislature Restarts Pension Reform


    (May 8, 2013)--Is this the year changes come to Allegheny County's Retirement System, a self-insured defined benefit plan covering more than 7,400 non-uniformed employees, jail guards, deputy ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 03, 2013

    Drilling Fee Revenue Slips Below 2011 Collections


    (May 3, 2013)--On April 1st, drillers operating in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation were required to pay their annual well fees to the Commonwealth. As discussed in Policy Briefs Volume 12, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 30, 2013

    Social Impacts of Liquor Privatization


    Social Impacts of Liquor Privatization
    Submitted Testimony of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives to the Senate Law ~Justice Committee, April 30, 2013

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 10, 2013

    PA State Budget 2013-2014


    Governor Corbett's proposed budget of $28.4 billion in general fund spending and $67.6 billion in spending from all funds represents our highest spending levels ever–exceeding years when ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 03, 2013

    US Airways Taking Pittsburgh for Another Ride?


    (April 3, 2013)--USAirways has entered into a merger agreement with American Airlines. If the merger passes regulatory muster–it has already received approval of American's bankruptcy ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 02, 2013

    Government Reform Caucus


    A Republican State Representative and a Democratic State Senator have announced the creation of a new Government Reform Caucus in the General Assembly. The ideas they are advancing are state ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 01, 2013

    An Update on Municipal Finances in Allegheny County


    (February 1, 2013)--Many people keep fairly close tabs on the goings on of the Federal and State governments. However, they often are unaware of what is happening within their own municipality, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 25, 2013

    Another Tax Plan for Pittsburgh's Nonprofits


    (January 25, 2013)--Noting that non-profits in the City of Pittsburgh
    own a lot of property and employ a lot of people but are tax exempt
    and not a lot of them participate in helping the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 22, 2013

    LTV Site Redevelopment Edging Toward Reality?


    (January 22, 2013)--Recent announcements from the URA and the RIDC indicate that progress is being made on the long and winding road toward a redevelopment of the LTV Hazelwood site that was idled in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 15, 2013

    Turnpike Tolls Rise to Pay Bond Debt


    (January 15, 2013)--For the fifth consecutive year, the Turnpike Commission welcomed 2013 with an increase in tolls, ten percent for cash customers and two percent for electronic customers (E-Z ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 09, 2013

    Unheralded Source of Job Strength in Pittsburgh Region


    (January 9, 2013)--There's a new jobs producing hero in town. Actually it has been around for a while but has stepped to the front of late. Professional and Technical Services now lays claim to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 04, 2013

    Report: Seniors Benefit from Improved Lottery


    Senior citizens may experience cuts to social services and taxpayers incur tax hikes should state officials balk at a new and improved Pennsylvania Lottery contract, finds a Commonwealth Foundation ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 03, 2013

    Supreme Court in Reassessment Thicket


    (January 3, 2013)--It has been nearly four years since the state Supreme Court struck down Allegheny County's base year assessments. It might have to wade back into the issue based on an appeal to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 03, 2012

    Pittsburgh International Struggles


    (December 3, 2012)--In early 2011 the Allegheny Institute wrote two Policy Briefs (Volume 11, Numbers 8 and 16) outlining some of the problems facing Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT). The first ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, November 19, 2012

    A Tale of Two Cities' Schools


    (November 19, 2012)--School closings, borrowings to close a budget deficit, and calling on employees to make sacrifices: that's happening in the Philadelphia School District. There can certainly be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 15, 2012

    Sweet Deal for Steelers?


    (November 13, 2012)--With all three Pittsburgh professional sports teams playing in fancy new digs, taxpayers could be forgiven for thinking they are through having to subsidize the teams. But they ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 02, 2012

    Do Sto-Rox Teachers and School Board Really Care?


    (November 2, 2012)--The Sto-Rox School District recently rejected a charter school proposal. This prompted a teachers' union official to declare victory and state that the district "has a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 25, 2012

    Did Funding Decline Cause Drop in Achievement Scores?


    (October 25, 2012)--The recent release of 2011-2012 PSSA test results showed a decline in the statewide percentages of student scoring at the proficient or advanced level (-1.4 percent in math and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 12, 2012

    Hill District Grocery


    (October 12, 2012)--Where's the beef? Where is the chicken, the
    bread, the canned soup, the detergent, or the coffee? Not in a Hill
    District grocery store that's for sure. And since the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 28, 2012

    No More Per Diem Piggy Bank for Lawmakers



    September 28, 2012:

    CAP previously brought the 2011 Per Diem King to your attention, he collected $39,000 tax free:

    "Members of the General Assembly don't have to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 28, 2012

    Pittsburgh Promise Goes for Broke


    (September 28, 2012)--The Pittsburgh Promise program was launched to great fanfare in 2006 as the panacea for what ails City schools. It was claimed that by offering scholarships to virtually all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 24, 2012

    Economic Development or Legal Plunder?


    Economic Development or Legal Plunder

    September 24, 2012:

    Should taxpayers "give" $2 million to a $16 BILLION ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 19, 2012

    Analysis of Pittsburgh MSA Labor Force Growth


    (September 19, 2012)--When the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the July household data many were happy to learn that the labor force for the seven-county Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 18, 2012

    Affordable Care Act: PA's Costs


    The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act–often dubbed "Obamacare"–will cost Americans $1.2 trillion from 2012 to 2022 according to the Congressional Budget Office. These ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 18, 2012

    V&V Q&A: Main Street, and QE3


    Editor's Note: The "V&V Q&A" is an e-publication from The Center for Vision ~Values at Grove City College. In this latest edition, we interview the chair of the department of economics at ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 12, 2012

    Big Drop in Pittsburgh PSSA Scores


    September 12, 2012)--Last week the state reported that more stringent security measures had been implemented for 2012 PSSA testing as a result of evidence that scores were being enhanced by cheating ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 10, 2012

    Will Ohio Gaming Threaten PA Casinos?


    (September 10, 2012)--The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released revenue figures for August 2012 and noted that total gross revenue increased by 3.7 percent from casinos that were in operation ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 05, 2012

    Will RAD be Tapped for PAT?


    (September 5, 2012)--Call it a strange case of foreshadowing. When the Regional Asset District (RAD) became law under Act 77 of 1993, only a few people other than Legislators would have noticed the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Sun, September 02, 2012

    Principles for Public Pension Reform


    Pennsylvania taxpayers fund two statewide pension plans for government
    employees—the State Employees' Retirement System (SERS) for state employees and the Public School Employees' ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 30, 2012

    Light is Dawning on Turnpike Debt Growth


    (August 30, 2012)--In January of this year, the Pennsylvania's
    Auditor General proclaimed that the Pennsylvania Turnpike was
    "drowning in debt" to which the Turnpike CEO responded ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 28, 2012

    Pittsburgh in Denial About Pension Assets


    (August 27, 2012)--In yet another example of can kicking on a
    critical public policy issue, the Pittsburgh pension board voted down
    City Controller Lamb's proposal to study whether ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 20, 2012

    Proposed AlCo Air Regs Could Hamper Growth


    (August 20, 2012)--Hard on the heels of the recent release of CNBC's dismally low ranking of Pennsylvania's business friendliness (Policy Brief Volume 12 Number 36) the Allegheny County Health ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 13, 2012

    Pension Battle Still Simmering


    Pension Battle Still Simmering

    (August 13, 2012)--Is Pittsburgh wearing rose colored glasses when it comes to estimating the rate of return on its pension plan investments? If so, should ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 09, 2012

    PAT Bailout is the Wrong Approach


    (August 8, 2012)--As the long running saga of the Port Authority's (PAT) tortured finances winds toward the metaphorical cliff on September 2nd, perhaps it is time to rethink the entire approach to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 19, 2012

    PA Slides in Another Business Climate Ranking


    (July 19, 2012)--The Commonwealth slid in yet another ranking of the state's business climate. In their report "America's Top States for Business 2012" CNBC uses ten categories to rank the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 16, 2012

    Are Public Sector Pension Changes Coming?


    (July 16, 2012)--It is not going to get any easier on the pension front in Pennsylvania. Just this week, as the state put the final touches on the 2012-13 budget, the warning bells on the costs ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 12, 2012

    Union Political Spending Exceeds Donations


     
     
     
     
    By Tom McGinty and Brody Mullins for The Wall Street Journal

                    Organized labor spends about four times as much on politics ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 09, 2012

    SW PA Job Growth Reviewed


    As we have written in previous Policy Briefs, the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area (MSA) experienced strong employment growth in 2011 (as measured by the establishment survey), especially in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 28, 2012

    School Property Tax Reform Must Start with Cost Containment


    (June 27, 2012)--On June 11th, H.B. 1776, a proposal to end school property taxes, came up for a vote in the House Finance Committee. The Committee believed the proposal contained too many ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 20, 2012

    Pittsburgh Promise Raises Money, But Misses Primary Goals


    (June 20, 2012)--Last week was a bounty of good news for boosters of the Pittsburgh Promise. It was announced that $160 million had been raised over the past four years, putting it well on its way ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 15, 2012

    Lawmakers, Businesses Can Rescue Students Now


    by Otto Banks and Priya M. Abraham

    If lawmakers were in any doubt about how dire Pennsylvania's education crisis has become, they need only look to Harrisburg ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 13, 2012

    Alco: Appeals of Homes Recently Sold


    (June 13, 2012)--Many taxpayers are not happy with their new assessments. Those who think their new assessed value is too high have initiated appeals. Count among this group the County Executive, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 11, 2012

    Questons About Property Tax Reform Bill


    In November 2011 we wrote a Policy Brief about a proposal to end school property taxes in Pennsylvania (Volume 11, Number 61). The proposal came from the House Majority Policy Committee with the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 29, 2012

    County Executive Vows to Fix Port Authority


    (May 29, 2012)--Allegheny County's Chief Executive told the Tribune Review that changes are coming for the Port Authority (PAT), either within the existing structure or in a new structure–no ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 21, 2012

    Selling Unused Building Will Benefit Pittsburgh School District


    (May 21, 2012)--The Pittsburgh Public School District has 23 closed up school buildings on their hands and is spending $15.2 million per year on maintenance and debt service for them. In August ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 18, 2012

    Is it Sayonara to Property Taxes in Allegheny County?


    (May 17, 2012)--Stop the reassessment in Allegheny County, no matter what it takes. That has been the consistent mantra from the County Executive (before and after his election) who has asked for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 11, 2012

    Port Authority's Deal with the Devil


    (May 11, 2012)--After all the hype about how wonderful it would be to have light rail service to the North Shore to serve the bustling development and entertainment venues, the Port Authority (PAT) ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 08, 2012

    Has Business Executive Optimism Faded?


    (May 8, 2012)--In the Lincoln Institute's Spring 2012 Keystone
    Business Climate Survey -

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 01, 2012

    Lung Association Doesn't Tell All


    (May 1, 2012)--Every year about this time–including last week's report on 2011 results–the American Lung Association reports on air quality across the country, singling out the cities and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 23, 2012

    Allegheny Institute: Assessment Changes


    (April 23, 2012)--Notwithstanding the results of appeals, the total assessed value of real property in Allegheny County is expected to increase 35 percent when new values are certified for 2013. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 19, 2012

    Counties Vote to Impose Gas Well Fee


    (April 19, 2012)--When Act 13, the Unconventional Gas Well Impact Fee Act, was signed into law on February 14th, it gave counties with such wells the option of imposing an impact fee. The counties, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 16, 2012

    Assessment Task Forces Shies From Solutions


    (April 16, 2012)--Nearly three years after the Supreme Court ruled Allegheny County's base year plan to be in violation of the uniformity clause of the Pennsylvania Constitution comes the report of a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 11, 2012

    State Spending Limits Policy Points


    State Spending Limits for Pennsylvania

    State Spending is Growing Faster than Taxpayers' Ability to Pay

    • Total Pennsylvania state ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 05, 2012

    Revisions Boost 2011 Job Gains Estimates


    (April 5, 2012)--When the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry (L&I) issued the January workforce information release for the Pittsburgh metropolitan statistical area (MSA), the household ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 21, 2012

    School District Seeks Answers


    (March 21, 2012)--Cut personnel, raise taxes, or dip into the savings account. Those are the choices facing one of the largest school districts in Allegheny County. As the 2012-13 fiscal year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 15, 2012

    PA State and School Pension Costs


    Taxpayer Pension Contributions

    • Pennsylvania taxpayers fund two statewide pension plans for government employees–the State Employees' Retirement System ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 14, 2012

    Assessing the Allegheny Reassessment Accuracy


    (March 14, 2012)--In mid-2011–when all indications were that the County was on pace to complete the court-ordered reassessment and taxpayers would be getting notice of their new values as early ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 09, 2012

    PA Corrections Spending


    Pennsylvania's FY 2011-12 total operating budget of $63.4 billion, which included $27.1 billion in General Fund spending, represented the first year-to-year reduction in state spending in at least 40 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 08, 2012

    PA Hits Bottom in New Business Tax Ranking


    (March 8, 2012)--Every year the Washington DC based Tax Foundation releases its State Business Tax Climate ranking report. For the past several years Pennsylvania has done reasonably well according ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, March 05, 2012

    A Funding Proposal to Alleviate PAT's Financial Woes


    (March 5, 2012)--By now it should be common knowledge that the source of the Port Authority's (PAT) financial problems stem from decades of labor contracts containing excessively generous pay and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 29, 2012

    Alco Airport Authority Involved in Privatization Effort


    (February 29, 2012)--The recent news that the Allegheny County Airport Authority is supporting privatization came as a bit of a surprise given the longstanding strenuous anti-privatization stance ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 29, 2012

    PA K-12 Education Spending


    Pennsylvania's FY 2011-12 total operating budget of $63.4 billion, which included $27.1 billion in General Fund spending, represented the first year-to-year reduction in state spending in at least 40 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 27, 2012

    Assessing the Marcellus Well Impact Fee


    (February 24, 2012)--Recently, Governor Corbett signed the long awaited bill that imposes fees on Marcellus gas wells. The legislation, known as Act 13, gives counties where unconventional ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 22, 2012

    CF: PA Welfare Spending


    The FY 2011-12 total operating budget of $63.4 billion, which included $27.1 billion in General Fund spending, represented the first year-to-year reduction in state spending in at least 40 years. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 17, 2012

    Washington County Assessment Appeal Tossed


    (February 17, 2012)--In a long running drama remarkably similar to the case in Allegheny County, a Commonwealth Court judge denied Washington County's appeal of a November 2011 lower court order ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 16, 2012

    PA Welfare System Unsustainable


    Contact: Jay Ostrich 717.671.1901; cell: 717.649.6547 |
    jdo@commonwealthfoundation.org

    Report finds Pennsylvania welfare system unsustainable, hurting poor

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 14, 2012

    PA's Prevailing Wage Law


    Pennsylvania's Prevailing Wage Law was enacted in 1961 to protect construction workers from out-of-state competition, mandating that contractors pay the wages that "prevail" in each region ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 10, 2012

    Millage Change Requirements Following Reassessments



    Policy Brief (Volume 12, Number 8)
    Millage Change Requirements Following Reassessments

    (February 8, 2012)--In the weeks since the 2012 assessed values ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 30, 2012

    Solving PAT's Financial Woes


    (January 30, 2012)--The ongoing saga of the financial morass at the
    Port Authority (PAT) has developed an interesting twist. Governor
    Corbett, through a spokesperson, has responded to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 18, 2012

    Turnpike Drowning in Debt


    (January 17, 2012)--Recently Pennsylvania's Auditor General stated that the Pennsylvania Turnpike is "drowning in debt". This characterization was disputed by the Turnpike's CEO as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 09, 2012

    Alco Municipalities Holding Own on Pensions


    January 9, 2012)--In our ongoing analysis and review of the financial conditions of Allegheny County municipalities, we take a look at the health of pension plans. Much has been made of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 04, 2012

    Alco Tax Hike: A Regional Perspective


    (January 4, 2012)--Setting aside all the madness surrounding the reassessment process that began with the mailing of new values to property owners in Pittsburgh and Mt. Oliver, it is important to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 12, 2011

    Pittsburgh Region Jobs Picture Looking Up


    (December 12, 2011)--Has the Pittsburgh area climbed out of the recession? Notwithstanding the commentary nationally and locally lamenting the tough economic times across much of the Country and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 29, 2011

    Another Proposal to End School Property Taxes


    (November 29, 2011)--Every so often the idea comes up--shifting the
    school tax burden from property to something else such as the sales
    tax or the personal or earned income tax. And as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, November 28, 2011

    County Tax Exemption Coming to an End?


    (November 22, 2011)--Since 2003, Allegheny County has offered a homestead exclusion that reduces the assessed value of owner-occupied residences by $15,000. Under the exclusion, an owner living in a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 22, 2011

    Transportation Study Misses the Bus


    (November 21, 2011)--On November 18th the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) released a study claiming that Pittsburgh area commuters who drive to work could save $9,201 per year by ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 16, 2011

    Debunking Keystone Research


    (November 16, 2011)--How to speed job growth in Pennsylvania?
    According to the latest offering from the Keystone Research Center
    (KRC), the Commonwealth and local tax levying bodies should ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 10, 2011

    Population Changes in Allegheny County Municipalities


    (November 10, 2011)--In last week's Policy Brief (Volume 11, Number 56), we documented the per capita spending and revenues for most of Allegheny County's municipalities noting the high, low and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 03, 2011

    Update on Municipal Spending in Allegheny County


    (November 1, 2011)--Local government is perhaps the most important to its residents, yet many are unaware of how much their municipality collects in revenues and spends on services. In 2010 we ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 27, 2011

    Government Unions Steal Worker Freedom


    By Cara Dochat and Priya Abraham

    Imagine a lobbying firm with immense power over your government. This organization influences how much the government pays ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 24, 2011

    Supreme Court Undermines Act 47


    (October 24, 2011)--A recently announced momentous decision of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has severely limited the power of Act 47 to impose steps aimed at helping financially distressed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Sat, October 22, 2011

    Dealing with City Pensions: What's Next?


    (October 21, 2011)--Following closely behind the oversight board's
    approval of the City's 2012 updated budget, which included putting an
    additional $10 million toward pensions and bringing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 20, 2011

    Cows, Communists, Cell Phones - and Wall Street


    V&V Q&A:
    Cows, Communists, and Cell Phones–and Wall Street
    With Herb Meyer

    Editor's Note: The "V&V Q&A" is an e-publication from The Center for Vision ~Values ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 14, 2011

    Predictable Knee Jerk Reaction to Voucher Plan


    (October 14, 2011)--Hot on the heels of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association's attack on Governor Corbett's plan to improve educational opportunities for poor students in the state's weakest ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 06, 2011

    Time for State to Terminate Duquesne School District


    (October 4, 2011)--Almost a decade ago, the Allegheny Institute reported on the dreadful SAT scores recorded by Duquesne High School students. In 2003, we noted that Duquesne's average combined 2001 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 06, 2011

    Defense of Prevailing Wage Law Falls Short


    (October 6, 2011)--The Keystone Research Center (KRC) recently
    released a report touting the benefits of Pennsylvania's prevailing
    wage law. The report appears to be timed to offer ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 22, 2011

    PA: Naton's Leading User of Local Income Tax


    (September 22, 2011) - Act 32 of 2008 will go into effect this coming January, changing the method of collecting local earned income taxes (wage taxes) levied by municipalities and school districts ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 14, 2011

    One Young World: Many Local Questions


    (September 14, 2011) - In October 2012, Pittsburgh will roll out the welcome mat for another international-flavored conference, this one called the One Young World summit. Of course the Mayor and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 29, 2011

    Public Sector Pay Study Misses Mark


    Policy Brief (Volume 11, Number 44)
    Public Sector Pay Study Completely Misses the Mark

    (August 29, 2011) - A study just released jointly by the Keystone

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 26, 2011

    Sexual Anarchy: The Kinsey Legacy


    Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D. and Mary E. McAlister, Esq.

    Our children are under attack by an insidious and virulent enemy. On August 17, 2011, more than 50 activists attended a conference for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 18, 2011

    Numbers Improve at Rivers Casino


    (August 18, 2011) - As the second full year of operations came to a close, the Rivers Casino received some good news in the form of an upgrade in its credit rating by Moody's Investors Service. An ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 20, 2011

    Is Pittsburgh Council Serious About Shutting Down Parking Authorty?


    (July 20, 2011)--Members of Pittsburgh City Council have expressed frustration with the operations of the Public Parking Authority. Some have mentioned the possibility of dissolving the Authority. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 15, 2011

    Economic Impact of Marcelus Shale in Pittsburgh Region


    (July 15, 2011) - The proponents of drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale formation are quick to point out the economic benefits this new industry is bringing to the Pittsburgh region and the state ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 07, 2011

    Backpedaling on Assessment Completion Date


    (July 7, 2011) - For those who were on the edge of their seats waiting to get assessment notices this month, the excitement will have to wait. Allegheny County won't be processing reassessment ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 29, 2011

    Pittsburgh Retiree Benefits Problem Getting Worse


    As we have written on previous occasions, the City of Pittsburgh's legacy cost issue is multi-faceted–although little attention is given to some important parts of the problem. Heavy focusing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 22, 2011

    Wisconsin Reins in Government Worker Unions


    Back in the wintry days of February, the nation's attention was focused intensely on the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin. Thousands of boisterous protestors took over the public areas of the building ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 21, 2011

    Cut, Cap, Balance


    By COLIN HANNA, CHRIS CHOCOLA AND KEN BLACKWELL

    The U.S. debt is now above its current limit of $14.3 trillion, a figure so large that it is nearly impossible for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 15, 2011

    Alco: Gearing Up for New Assessments


    "Assessments" and "fatigue" are two words normally not linked together, but they are forever joined in Allegheny County thanks to the events of the past decade. Since the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 14, 2011

    PA's Failing, Violent Schools


    More than 106,000 children are enrolled in the 144 public schools comprising Pennsylvania's lowest performing 5 percent on student proficiency. These schools reported more than 5,400 violent ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 09, 2011

    Bills to End Teacher Strikes Introduced


    "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more:" A Shakespearian cry from Henry the Fifth urging soldiers to take advantage of an important military opportunity that could soon be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, June 06, 2011

    PA Budget Facts: Pensions


    Pennsylvania Budget Facts 2011
    Pennsylvania State Pension Liabilities
    Taxpayer Pension Contributions

    • Pennsylvania taxpayers fund two statewide pension ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 02, 2011

    Debunking Demographic Hype in the 'Burgh


    Giddy editorial writers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette nearly hyperventilated recently upon learning the City's median age had declined from 35.5 years in 2000 to 33.2 years in 2010. As they ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 25, 2011

    What to Do About Mass Transit Costs in PA?


    "Let's face it–transit agencies are not private companies and do not make a profit. Public transit has both a business and a social mission". So began the presentation on mass ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 23, 2011

    Time to Repeal Prevailing Wage Law


    Many, perhaps most, Pennsylvania school districts are facing a financial
    crunch. With taxpayers already stretched to the limit and Harrisburg
    contemplating large cuts to K-12 education ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 20, 2011

    Welfare ~Medicaid Spending Skyrockets


    Pennsylvania Budget Facts 2011
    Pennsylvania Welfare Spending & Medicaid
    GROWTH OF WELFARE SPENDING

    • Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed FY 2011-12 budget ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 16, 2011

    Union Members Minority of PA Workforce


    At only 15 percent of all employees, union members make up a small fraction of Pennsylvania's workforce. Yet somehow they exercise enormous and far out of proportion influence on elected officials ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 12, 2011

    A Lesson on Costs and Causes in Education


    Correlation: a relation existing between phenomena or things or between mathematical or statistical variables which tend to vary, be associated, or occur together in a way not expected on the basis ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 05, 2011

    PA Budget Facts: Natural Gas Taxes


    Pennsylvania Budget Facts 2011
    Natural Gas Taxes and Fees
    Pennsylvania's Natural Gas Boom

    • The Marcellus Shale is a large and difficult-to-drill ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 03, 2011

    Data Revisions Change Region's Unemployment Picture


    The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has revised its labor force estimates for the period 2005 through 2010. This was done to reflect new Census Bureau population controls, updated input data, new ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 28, 2011

    PA Budget Facts


    The Commonwealth Foundation has two new fact sheets on the Pennsylvania State Budget.

    Pennsylvania Educational Spending

    • K-12 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 25, 2011

    Alco 'Base Year' Assessment Plan Failing


    Although Allegheny County's base year plan has not completely given up the
    ghost, the epitaph for the plan is beginning to be written. Created in
    October of 2005 by Ordinance #45-05, the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 20, 2011

    Has Allegheny County Population Loss Ended?


    Has the population decline in Allegheny County that dates back to 1960 finally ended? The latest Census figures show the rate of population loss since 2000 appears to have slowed to a halt–at ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 18, 2011

    Education Employment Grows by Leaps and Bounds


    School districts around the region and across the Commonwealth are grappling with the realities of the coming fiscal year and exploring methods of cost-savings and revenue enhancements. In recent ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 11, 2011

    After Rapid Cost Increases, Can Universities Cut?


    Governor Tom Corbett's first budget did more than ruffle a few feathers: it threw many of those on the public dole into a full throttle tizzy. Among them are the public universities that have for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 07, 2011

    PA Budget Facts


    Pennsylvania Budget Facts 2011

    Today, the Commonwealth Foundation released two fact sheets on the Pennsylvania State Budget.

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 04, 2011

    Where Was Pittsburgh Budget Oversight?


    Legislate in haste, repent at leisure. Recent developments indicate that axiom applies to the City's budget, especially the New Years' Eve plan aimed at avoiding a state takeover of pensions. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 29, 2011

    Uncertainty and Confusion Abound at PAT


    What seemed to be a clear and straightforward agenda at the Port Authority (PAT) board's March 25th meeting turned into a much longer and drawn-out affair after the transit union made a last-ditch ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 25, 2011

    Another View of Heinz Endowment Air Quality Findings


    In a report [1] released March 9, the Heinz Endowments presented a very negative picture of air quality in the Pittsburgh region. Two of their key assertions need close examination.

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 24, 2011

    Charter Members


    The respective partisan caucuses of Allegheny County Council will soon be meeting to select members to fill the two vacancies caused by Council members who vacated their seats in order to run for the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 18, 2011

    Pensions Landscape in Allegheny County


    Allegheny County is home to nearly 300 pension plans that cover the gamut of local government employees: from police officers and firefighters to bus drivers, clerks and garbage collectors, from ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 16, 2011

    Streamlining State Government


    Reforming the Regulatory Structure of Pennsylvania
    Executive Summary

    Across the nation, states are facing formidable fiscal challenges. In an effort to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 15, 2011

    Pittsburgh Airport Costs Hinder Growth


    Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has failed to live up to its potential since construction was completed nearly two decades ago. As we wrote in a previous Policy Brief (Volume 11, Number 8), ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 10, 2011

    PAT Moves Slowly on Private Bus Service


    In response to the planned reduction of mass transit service that entails the elimination of 29 routes and the curtailment of 37 others, Lenzner Tours, a private service provider, has applied to the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 08, 2011

    Moratorium Needs on Calls for Moratoriums


    Allegheny County Council is on the verge of taking up legislation that would instruct the Council's solicitor to ask the courts to halt the reassessment ordered by a local court and the Supreme Court ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 08, 2011

    CF Grades Corbett Budget Address


    Plan slows runaway government train, short of A+ improvement

    HARRISBURG, PA (3.08.11)–The Commonwealth Foundation graded Gov. Tom Corbett's budget address a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 04, 2011

    Are Changes Coming to the Oversight Board?


    The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority for Cities of the Second Class–commonly known as the ICA and more commonly as the oversight board–was created in 2004 to help prevent a fiscal ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 02, 2011

    Allegheny County Council Continues Irresponsible Voting


    Hard on the heels of its repugnant and indefensible vote to smear W and K Steel by designating it as a "sweatshop", County Council has added to its irresponsible record by voting ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 23, 2011

    Another Misleading Analysis of PA Jobs


    In a February 8, 2011 report, the Keystone Research Center credits Pennsylvania's recent comparatively good jobs performance on all the money spent in the last few years to promote green energy, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 21, 2011

    New Hampshire Flirts with Right to Work


    Last week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives sent a shock wave through New England and North Atlantic states by passing Right-to-Work legislation by an overwhelming majority. New Hampshire's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 17, 2011

    Promise Program Sends a Better Message


    The Pittsburgh Promise college scholarship program, in an abrupt departure from its original plan, announced changes to the amounts available to graduating students who qualify for funds. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 09, 2011

    What to Do About Pittsburgh Airport?


    The new terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) was constructed in the early 1990s at the behest of US Airways to strengthen Pittsburgh's status as the principal "hub" in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 08, 2011

    Commonwealth Foundation on S.B. # 1


    Senate Bill 1, The Opportunity Scholarship Act sponsored by Sen. Jeff Piccola (R) and Sen. Tony Williams (D), would expand scholarships available to children in lower- and middle-income families ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 03, 2011

    Allegheny County Employment: 20 Years of Falling Behind


    Economic development in Allegheny County over the last few decades has been driven heavily by government subsidies and directives putting taxpayers–County, state and municipal–in the role ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 01, 2011

    Sunset Review: Better Late Than Never?


    Compare and contrast the events that occurred around this past New Year's Eve for the region's most high profile governments. Pittsburgh City Council and the City administration were in a virtual ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 27, 2011

    County Officials Avoid Assessment Responsibility


    An Allegheny County Council Committee has voted to instruct the Solicitor to file suit against the state Legislature in an effort to force it to enact a moratorium on reassessments and rewrite ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 26, 2011

    Corbett's Plan: This is Reform?


    Facing mounting criticism for appearing to brush off a campaign pledge to issue a "reform plan" his first week in office (a commercial said he would do it on "Day One"), Gov. Tom ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 25, 2011

    Voter Approval of Taxes Out of Reach


    Should voters in the City of Pittsburgh have the right to approve or reject property tax increases? A majority of City Council does not think so, and have effectively killed a measure that would ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 20, 2011

    Fixing Rendell's Mess


    Katrina Currie and Nathan A. Benefield

    Penn's Woods are darker and deeper in red ink than ever before thanks to the tax-borrow-and-spend agenda of the Rendell ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 19, 2011

    P-G 'Mapping Mortality' Raises Concerns


    A review of the analysis and data used in the Post-Gazette series "Mapping Mortality" raises very serious concerns about the accuracy of the conclusions drawn regarding the alleged need for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 10, 2011

    Is a Taxpayer Referendum on Its Way to Pittsburgh?


    Pittsburgh Councilman Burgess has introduced a measure to give City voters the power to approve or reject property tax increases. The proposed ordinance calls for a referendum asking voters if they ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 06, 2011

    Pittsburgh Council Pension Funding Raises Questions


    As the proverbial clock moved close to midnight on December 31st Pittsburgh City Council finalized a plan it believed would be sufficient to avoid a state takeover of the City's underfunded pensions. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 30, 2010

    Municipal Spending in Allegheny County


    With municipalities across Allegheny County setting their budgets for the upcoming year, several are patting themselves on the back for not raising taxes. That is a good thing but it would be even ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 22, 2010

    IS the Capital City Headed for Bankruptcy?


    Just last week, the state's capital city, Harrisburg (population 47k), was declared financially distressed under Act 47. Harrisburg becomes the 20th city since the statute became law in 1987 to be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 16, 2010

    Rivers Casino Profitability Disadvantage


    As we have documented in past Policy Briefs, the Rivers Casino has gotten off to a rocky start–first with ownership problems and then with weak gross terminal revenues from slots operations. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 09, 2010

    Crucial Decision Time for the SPC


    On December 13th the board of the Southwest Pennsylvania Commission (SPC)–which consists of elected and appointed officials responsible for steering planning and transportation priorities for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, December 03, 2010

    Brookings Tells Us Nothing About Pittsburgh Economy


    Since 2008, the Allegheny Institute has commented many times on the slow arriving recession and its relatively moderate negative impact on the region's economy. With no housing or general real ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, November 29, 2010

    State Must Act Now to Fix the Port Authority


    The Port Authority (PAT) is bankrupt. It is bankrupt financially, intellectually and morally. PAT's board and the elected officials who appoint the board members refuse to listen to suggestions of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 19, 2010

    A Plant o Mitigate Bus Service Cuts


    As expected, the Port Authority of Allegheny County (PAT) has announced that it is out of options and will make drastic cuts in service beginning in March. Faced with a near $50 million budget ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 16, 2010

    PAT Bus System Still Expensive


    There is s lot of hand wringing over the Port Authority's (PAT) plans to cut bus service dramatically to deal with the agency's nearly $50 million budget shortfall. While civic leaders, businesses, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 11, 2010

    Getting Serious About Public Sector Pensions


    A Tribune Review article of November 8 reminds once again just how desperate the unfunded pension plan situation is for many Pennsylvania communities, including the two largest cities as well as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 10, 2010

    What Will Become of Oversight Board?


    Next year marks the end of the current life span of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) for Cities of the Second Class, commonly known as the Oversight Board. Created by Act 11 of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 05, 2010

    Union Pension Bailout ~Generational Theft


    Pennsylvania's largest public pension plans–Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) and State Employees Retirement System (SERS)–are severely underfunded. But instead of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 04, 2010

    Are Pittsburgh School Luchring Toward Fiscal Nightmare?


    As the Pittsburgh Public School District Board prepares to release its proposed budget for 2011, they are quick to point out there will be no tax increase for the tenth consecutive year. Supporters ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 03, 2010

    Pittsburgh School Enrollment Slide Continues


    Pittsburgh Public Schools have seen yet another enrollment decline continuing a trend dating back over a decade. The student count for the 2010-11 school year fell 3.1 percent (797) below the year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 28, 2010

    Health Care Reform: An Update


    Before enacting the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Congress had to pass the bill before we'd find out what's in it. Sadly, it's worse ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 27, 2010

    Pittsburgh School Enrollment Slide Continues


    Pittsburgh Public Schools have seen yet another enrollment decline continuing a trend dating back over a decade. The student count for the 2010-11 school year fell 3.1 percent (797) below the year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 20, 2010

    Garage Privatization Should Remain Option in Pittsburgh


    With City Council's final vote and the Mayor's pronouncement that it is "time to move on" to other issues, the stage appears to be set for the troubled pension plans to move from City ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 15, 2010

    What Will a State Pension Takeover Mean for Pittsburgh?


    "A City of the Second Class that is determined to be in Level III distress based upon the required actuarial valuation reports for a plan year beginning on January 1, 2011, shall transfer all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 13, 2010

    Will Leased Parking Garages be a Tax Shelter?


    Pittsburgh is contemplating a lease of its publicly owned parking to the high bidder for a sum of $452 million. The lease of nearly 18,000 spaces in garages or lots and on-street metered spots owned ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 06, 2010

    Has Recession Loosened Its Grip on the Pittsburgh Region?


    Is the recession loosening its grip on the Pittsburgh area? According to the latest payroll employment data for August, the answer may be "yes". August marked the third straight month ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 01, 2010

    Improving Home Rule in Allegheny County


    As home rule government begins its second decade in Allegheny County–the effective date of the Home Rule Charter was January 1, 2000–taxpayers and residents of the County have several big ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 01, 2010

    V&V Q&A with Dr. Paul Kengor on Dupes


    Editor's Note: The "V&V Q&A" is an e-publication from The Center for Vision ~Values at Grove City College. This is an interview with Dr. Paul Kengor, professor of political science and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 30, 2010

    Will Table Games Solve Rivers Casino Revenue Problems?


    Gmail Calendar Web Documents Reader more ▼Photos

    The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has released revenue data for the first full month of table game operations at the state's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 22, 2010

    Comparing Municipality Employee Counts


    Our recent report on municipal financial statistics (Report # 2010-04) shed light on the spending and revenues of a cross section sample of twenty municipalities in Allegheny County. The report ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 16, 2010

    PA SAT Scores Point to Futility of Higher Spending


    Once again reality intrudes on the fantasy world of the politicians, educrats, teachers' unions, school board members, and many parents who have swallowed hook, line and sinker the narrative that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 16, 2010

    Natural Gas: Myths v Facts


    The Marcellus Shale formation is believed to be the largest unconventional natural gas reservoir in America, and its exploration has been coined a modern-day gold rush. It has the potential to create ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 14, 2010

    Can County Corral Authorities?


    Under a proposed resolution (5836-10) before County Council, several of the County's larger special purpose authorities would be studied by an independent panel that could then recommend remedial ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 09, 2010

    Merging Municipal Functions into Counties: A Bad Idea


    A recently introduced bill in Harrisburg would mandate that all municipal functions be merged into their host county. The rationale is an old one–too many municipalities are stifling economic ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 03, 2010

    No Labor Day Joy in Pittsburgh


    Compounding the litany of financial difficulties confronting the City of Pittsburgh the latest jobless figures (July 2010) show a recession-high unemployment rate in the City's labor force of 9.1 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 30, 2010

    Why So Many Non-Teaching Employees in Pittsburgh?


    A pop quiz as another school year gets underway: what is the student-to-teacher
    ratio in the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS)? According to the most recent audited data (2009) the District shows ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 24, 2010

    Corporate Welfare Apologists Never Give Up


    Back in 2001, an editorial in Pittsburgh's liberal/progressive newspaper justified the taxpayer investment in PNC Park and Heinz Field on the basis of a couple of million dollars in projected ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 24, 2010

    Time to Fix Hole in Allegheny County's Oath of Office


    The Mayor of Pittsburgh, members of Pittsburgh City Council, and all City appointees do it; so too do the members of Allegheny County's personnel board; county officials in Erie County also do it; ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 17, 2010

    Sunset Review Still Hasn't Seen Light of Day


    Back in March of this year (Policy Brief Volume 10, Number 16) we inquired as to the whereabouts of Allegheny County's mandated periodic sunset review. Under language in the Home Rule ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 11, 2010

    Casino Anniversary: A Disappointing Year


    August 9th marked the one year anniversary of the Rivers Casino opening. While the Casino and its supporters claim the last year was a success, analysis of their gross terminal revenues (slot ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 09, 2010

    Senatorial Connector Criticism Gets Lame PAT Response


    In a recently released report by Senators Coburn and McCain titled "Summertime Blues", the North Shore Connector–Pittsburgh's $529 million "big dig"–was identified as ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 04, 2010

    Has SPC Derailed Flex Plan?


    In Policy Brief Volume 10, Number 39 we discussed the Governor's mention of the possibility of "flexing" highway money to help the Port Authority (PAT) with its impending deficit thereby ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 30, 2010

    PA #1 in Teacher Strikes


    We have pointed on many occasions how Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that give teachers the right to strike if collective bargaining does not produce a contract. Teacher strikes are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 30, 2010

    Unemployment Comp Debate Missing Key Points


    The attention given to the ongoing back and forth over unemployment compensation, while making good fodder for election year pundits and newspaper headlines, is not directed at the real issue: how to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 23, 2010

    Flexible Healing of PAT is No Cure


    "In the future our limited highway dollars should first be used to repair our existing roads and bridges, not close holes in the transit budget"–Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, July 20, 2010

    Pittsburgh's Pension Solution


    In last week's Policy Brief (Volume 10, Number 37) we showed that the proposal to lease Parking Authority facilities as a means to raise $200 million for Pittsburgh's pension funds would ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 15, 2010

    Proposed Pittsburgh Parking Lease


    As the Mayor takes his case for leasing the parking garages, lots, and meters to the public he has to wonder if at least one of the interested companies will see sufficient earnings potential from a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 30, 2010

    What Will Pittsburgh Parking Study Accomplish?


    What Will Council's $250,000 Parking Study Accomplish?

    City Council wants to leave no stone unturned and wants to make sure that when it decides to approve or disapprove of any agreement ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 24, 2010

    Rendell Gets It Wrong on Education Spending


    Speaking to group of Pennsylvania teachers on June 22, Governor Rendell tried to make the case for asking the Legislature to approve an additional $355 million in education spending in the 2010-2011 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 23, 2010

    Legal Reform Proposals Miss the Mark


    While job creators, health-care providers, consumers and others impacted by Pennsylvania's dismal legal system continue the fight for any progress on meaningful lawsuit abuse reform, some state ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 17, 2010

    Your Tax Dollars at Work


    Governor Rendell proposed a $66 billion total state operating budget for 2010-11 that increases taxes. What will these new taxes go to pay? Here is the second in a series looking at Your Tax ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 16, 2010

    Port Authority Irresponsibility: A Never Ending Story


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    Is history repeating itself? Later this week the state will convene a meeting in the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 08, 2010

    Rivers Casino Credit Rating Drops to Dismal Low


    Investors in Rivers Casino are pouring more money into the underperforming facility. The investors include Rivers Casino Chairman Neil Bluhm and the Detroit fire and police pension funds that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 04, 2010

    PA's Anti-Growth Trifecta


    The decades' long anemic growth of Pennsylvania's economy has been well documented. Consistently over many years, the state has posted job gains ranking among the bottom five or ten states. That ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, June 02, 2010

    PA Budget Facts 2010


    Pennsylvania Budget Facts 2010

    Today, the Commonwealth Foundation released two fact sheets on the Pennsylvania State Budget, and offered testimony on ways to reduce ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 01, 2010

    Is Port Authority Headed for a Federal Bailout?


    Here we go again. Port Authority (PAT) is facing yet another financial crisis. This time they can blame it on the failure of the Feds to approve tolling I-80. So now they are looking at a $50 million ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 27, 2010

    Rivers Casino Revenue Up, But Below Expectations


    There is some moderately good news from the Rivers Casino–at least from the casino's perspective. Gross terminal revenue has picked up 20 percent thus far in 2010 compared to the opening five ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 25, 2010

    Another Weak Start for Pirate Attendance


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy


    Welcome to another ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 25, 2010

    Sorry Governor, That's Not Correct


    As Gov. Ed Rendell and his supporters press for higher taxes in the 2010-11 state budget, they continue to make statements that range from misleading to factually incorrect, significantly clouding ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 21, 2010

    Teacher Union President Needs Some Education


    In an opinion piece earlier this week the president of the Pennsylvania State Education Association set out the teachers' association position on the impending requirement for massive contribution ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 19, 2010

    Pittsburgh Loses Again


    Pittsburgh has lost again, although this time it was not a sports contest. The City lost an arbitration award to the labor union representing Public Works employees. The grievance was over the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 13, 2010

    Pittsburgh's 0.3% Solution is a Very Bad Idea


    According to Mayor Ravenstahl there is unanimous agreement in his task force of government, university and business leaders that Pittsburgh needs a new source of revenue to bail out its ailing ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 06, 2010

    'Most Livable' a Dubious, Fleeting Honor


    Quick–who did Forbes magazine recently name as its "Most Livable City"? Unless one has been under a rock in southwestern Pennsylvania they would know that Pittsburgh was crowned with ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 04, 2010

    Candidates Spar Over Allegheny County Jobs


    Two candidates vying for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination have questioned the accuracy of County Executive Onorato's campaign ads regarding claims of job creation and are suggesting they are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 27, 2010

    Pittsburgh's Financial Watchdogs Lose Their Bark


    Pittsburgh City Council recently enacted a prevailing wage bill and is now considering a living wage bill. Both measures will almost certainly increase City spending either directly, by raising the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 21, 2010

    The Bell Tolls for PAT: Do They Hear It?


    Without tolls on Interstate 80 (I-80) to generate funds for roads, bridges, and mass transit, the CEO of Port Authority (PAT) says that what was a $25 million deficit for the coming fiscal year will ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 14, 2010

    Great Schools Ranking of Schools Flawed


    GreatSchools, a San Francisco non-profit organization, recently ranked cities according to school performance and city affordability. According to GreatSchools the rankings were done to assist ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 08, 2010

    Strike Three: Tolling I-80 is Out!


    For the third time Pennsylvania's application to toll Interstate 80 (I-80) has been denied by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood stated that the FHWA ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 05, 2010

    Are Public Pensions Becoming a Financial Suicide Pact?


    Here are two hard and uncomfortable truths about public pensions that will undoubtedly play an enormous role on policy and legislative decisions by the state and local governments in coming years:

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 31, 2010

    Mt. Lebanon Condo Plan Falls Through - Again


    Mt. Lebanon's controversial condominium project known as Washington Park, to be built on property formerly owned by the municipality's Parking Authority, has officially fallen through. Officially, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 26, 2010

    Has the Sun Set on Sunset Review in Allegheny County?


    Since Allegheny County's Home Rule Charter and administrative code clearly spell out that a sunset review of all County operating departments is to be conducted every four years, why has it been ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 24, 2010

    Measuring Pittsburgh's Financial Performance


    Compared to our Benchmark City–an amalgamation of financial data from four U.S. regional hub cities that differ in geographic location, population, square mileage, and political ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 17, 2010

    Recession Continues to Grip Region


    According to some analysts the recession is over. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has reported that real gross domestic product increased in both the third and fourth quarters of 2009, suggesting the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, March 12, 2010

    CF: The Case for a Citizen Legislature


    CF Releases The Case for a Citizen Legislature

    The Commonwealth Foundation today released The Case for a Citizen Legislature, a policy brief by Elizabeth Bryan and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 10, 2010

    Gaming Revenue Impact on Government Spending


    Money received by Allegheny County from gaming taxes almost certainly delayed hard budgetary choices. Would the County have raised taxes or cut spending in the absence of gaming dollars promised or ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 03, 2010

    Hard to Feel Sympathy for PAT


    Another year, another budget crisis. The Port Authority's (PAT) budget projection for 2010-2011 calls for yet another funding shortfall; this time about $25 million. PAT's planning and development ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 24, 2010

    Commonwealth Foundation Budget Facts


    Pennsylvania Budget Facts 2010
    Today, the Commonwealth Foundation released two new analyses of the Pennsylvania State Budget.
    Pennsylvania State Budget Overview

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 24, 2010

    Pittsburgh's Apologists Return with Bad Policy Suggestions


    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    In 2003 a duo of the City's elite chaired a task force known as the Hillman/Roderick Committee to study Pittsburgh's financial problems and to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 22, 2010

    Can Johnstown Regain its Financial Footing?


    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy


    In Act 47 status since 1992 and on its fourth amended recovery plan, the City of Johnstown just started ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 16, 2010

    Mt. Lebanon Schools Become a Taxpayer Mightmare


    Mt. Lebanon taxpayers, like many taxpayers in Pennsylvania, are facing a shocking increase in school taxes over the next five years. Between now and 2015, property tax collections in Mt. Lebanon are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, February 10, 2010

    Allegheny Institute: Harrisburg Contemplates Bankruptcy


    Could a $288 million debt, most of which is related to a publicly owned trash
    incinerator, turn Harrisburg's finances to ashes?

    That's a question officials in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 04, 2010

    Penn Hills Teacher Strike Mean-Spirited and Spiteful


    Penn Hills School District is cancelling classes in response to a teacher strike. This situation is all too commonplace in the state that annually leads the nation in teacher strikes.

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 25, 2010

    Allegheny Institute: Return of the Living Wage


    Pittsburgh City Council's attempt to install a prevailing wage for employees at City-subsidized development projects has emboldened one Council member to take it a step further and revisit the idea ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 21, 2010

    More Reassessment Bluster from the Chief Executive


    "Allegheny County will comply with the court-ordered 2012 reassessment…"–press release from the Chief Executive, December 4, 2009

    "I will do everything in my ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 20, 2010

    Mandated Wage Mania in Allegheny County


    Hard on the heels of the efforts of Pittsburgh to put together a "prevailing wage" law for workers on development projects that receive government financial assistance, now appears ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 14, 2010

    Pittsburgh Tax Revenue: A Better Approach


    When Pittsburgh's plans to use projected tuition tax revenues were denied by the Oversight Board, the resulting loss of $15 million in projected revenue for 2010 necessitated some reworking of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, January 11, 2010

    Prevailing Gamesmanship


    In a bold New Year's Eve gambit, Mayor Ravenstahl's veto was able to stymie City Council efforts to institute a "prevailing wage" law in Pittsburgh through a bill it passed unanimously on ...

    [View Full Article]

    Sat, January 09, 2010

    Time for More Transparency in Government


    There is a national movement to make government spending and finances accessible to taxpayers. Pennsylvania lags behind, but state lawmakers are moving toward greater transparency.

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 05, 2010

    Commonwealth Foundation Guide to Electric Choice


    Citizen's Guide to Electric Choice ~Competition

    Background

    Why are we now getting electricity choice and competition?

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 23, 2009

    Humbug: Coal to the Coalition for More Taxes


    Monday, December 21st marked the demise of the proposed tuition tax, also known as the "Post Secondary Education Privilege Tax" and the "Fair Share Tax", as the City and the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 14, 2009

    Pittsburgh's Worsening Policy Spiral


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    Pittsburgh's City Council is holding debates over proposed prevailing wage legislation. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 10, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Legislature Moves to Squash Tuition Tax


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    ________________________________________
    December 10, 2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 09, 2009

    Labor Market Weakness Persists in Pittsburgh Region


    Despite the wishful thinking of some civic leaders and pundits, recessionary labor market conditions persist in the Pittsburgh area. The latest household survey data from the Bureau of Labor ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, December 04, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Allegheny County Taxes: The Rest of the Story


    At last Tuesday night's County Council meeting the Council President stated that "the story here is that for the ninth year in a row now, this council has not raised property taxes even as all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 03, 2009

    Spending Transparency ~Accountability


    There is a national movement to make government spending and finances accessible to taxpayers. Pennsylvania lags behind, but state lawmakers are moving toward greater transparency.

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 02, 2009

    Missing the Housing Boom


    Conventional thinking among local leaders is that because the area didn't "boom" during the last few years, it didn't suffer the economic "bust" to the degree some other areas ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 24, 2009

    Every Generation Needs a Revolution


    By Matt Brouillette, Tim Potts, Barry Kauffman ~Olivia Thorne

    Pennsylvania's government is a prime exhibition of Lord Acton's well-known admonition that "power ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 24, 2009

    Summing Up the G-20 Summit


    Shortly after the conclusion of the September G-20 Summit, the head of VisitPittsburgh claimed the event's economic benefits to the City and region reached $35 million. As we pointed out in an ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 20, 2009

    Assessment Fiasco Gets New Life


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    At the October 19th hearing to determine how and when to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 17, 2009

    College Students: Welcome to Taxburgh


    The Mayor of Pittsburgh is trying to levy a new tax on college and university tuition to shore up the City's calamitous legacy costs. A City Council member has countered with another proposal. That ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 10, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    County Council Oversteps Yet Again


    Against the opinion of their own legal counsel and in the face of a threatened veto, County Council-on a 14 to 0 vote-passed legislation to impose service fees on certain tax-exempt, non-profit ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 04, 2009

    Pittsburgh Enrollment Decline Forecast to Continue


    An independent consultant hired by Pittsburgh Public Schools to study facility usage recommended closing 16 buildings and reconfiguring another 19 of the District's 70 facilities. The recommendations ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 29, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    Clarifying Pittsburg's Employment Picture


    Pittsburgh's mayoral race has produced some heated rhetoric about the jobs situation in the City. One candidate has criticized the Mayor's characterization of the unemployment situation as being ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 27, 2009

    Eds and Meds Jobs: Another Look


    September jobs numbers for the Pittsburgh region monotonously repeat the story of the past several months–significant year over year employment declines. Total private jobs fell 32,000 from ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 23, 2009

    Stronger Graduation Requirements Pay Off in the Long Run


    By Joe Torsella

    For almost two years, Pennsylvania has been engaged in spirited debate about the academic expectations we hold for our young people. In public hearings, the halls of the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 21, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: County Officials's Assessment Confusion


    While running for the County Executive position the first time, the current holder of that office was unrelenting in his harsh criticism of the 2002 assessment values, arguing they were hopelessly ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, October 16, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: A Look at the 2010 Allegheny County Budget


    While state budget deliberations have come to a close, discussions about Allegheny County's budget are just beginning. The County's general fund-where most of the day to day operations are accounted ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 14, 2009

    Lingering Problems at Pittsburgh International


    The Allegheny County Airport Authority has released its budget for 2010. And while it contains a very slight increase in expenditures over this year's budget it has been necessary to boost airline ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 07, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Home Rule Law Needs to be Revamped


    Almost a year ago to the day (Policy Brief Volume 8, Number 65) we asked this question: "who has the power to set tax rates in a home rule community?" The issue at hand was whether a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 06, 2009

    G-20: Did Pittsburgh Come Out Ahead?


    Pittsburgh's cheerleaders are lauding the benefits of hosting the G-20 summit with a claim the City and region reaped $35 million in direct economic benefits as well as what amounts to $100 million ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 30, 2009

    Pittsburgh's Star Crossed Casino Not So Majestic


    It seems that if something can go wrong for Pittsburgh's Rivers Casino, it will. From problems with ownership, location, long construction delays, a grand opening that fizzled, to six weeks of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 28, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: A Tax Ruling the Supreme Court Ought to Consider


    It has been two and a half years since Judge Wettick ruled Allegheny County's base year assessment system unconstitutional and ordered an updated assessment to be carried out. It has been six months ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 23, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Wishful Jobs Thinking


    Folks in the Pittsburgh area were given a double dollop of wishful thinking about jobs over the past few days. One arrived in the form of a forecast, the other from a protest march led by the Bailout ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, September 22, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Another Example of Union Tone Deafness


    Teachers in the South Butler School District are on strike for the second time in the last twelve months. They can stay on the picket lines until early October under Act 88. They face no ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 18, 2009

    Is Pittsburgh's Casino Being a Good Citizen?


    When Pittsburgh's casino license was transferred from Don Barden to Neil Bluhm's group, the latter agreed, as a condition of the transfer, to honor all obligations associated with that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, September 16, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: Assessment Saga Continues


    The never ending saga of Allegheny County's assessment system continues as the County Court of Common Pleas, the County government, and the legal counsel for the opponents of the base year huddle to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 11, 2009

    Allegheny Institute: What Happens in Chapter 9 Bankruptcy?


    In a previous Policy Brief (Volume 9, Number 51) we raised the question of whether Pittsburgh's legacy costs could force the City to seek relief under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Under ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, September 03, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    Casino Revenues Face Uphill Struggle


    Earnings for the third week of operations at the Rivers Casino were lower than the already disappointing levels of the first two weeks. This pattern is rapidly becoming a problem for Pittsburgh's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 26, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Casino Not Off to a Good Start


    The Rivers Casino on Pittsburgh's North Shore just finished its first two full weeks of operations (August 10th through August 23rd). Wagering and revenue data are available to the public through the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, August 19, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Encounters Pension Reform and Doesn't Like It


    If the health of Pittsburgh's three pension plans doesn't soon improve and if pending municipal pension reform legislation becomes state law, the City will see its oversight and administration of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 14, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    What Would PA Gain by Consolidating School Districts?


    Could Pennsylvania see another reduction in the number of school districts in coming years? If it does, would the reduction be of the magnitude of the late 1950s and early 1960s when the district ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, August 13, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Assessing Pittsburgh's Casinos


    Pittsburgh's casino is now open. Its first day of operations saw $14 million wagered and gross profits for the casino $1.29 million. In the midst of all of the excitement surrounding the slots ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 11, 2009

    Policy Points

    Quick Facts from the Commonwealth Foundation


    August 11, 2009

    Today, the Commonwealth Foundation released two new Policy Points highlighting Pennsylvania's state and local tax burden and state and local government debt, in light of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, August 07, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Is the eighth grade PSSA reading exam too easy?


    A close perusal of 2007-2008 PSSA (Pennsylvania System of Schools Assessment) reading test scores uncovers a serious question. What is going on with the 8th grade test that such high percentages of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, August 04, 2009

    Quick Facts from the Commonwealth Foundation:

    Electricity Restructuring and Rate Caps


    With electricity rate caps expiring, state lawmakers are concerned that Pennsylvanians will see steep increases in their utility bills. What will happen as the electricity deregulation, which is ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, August 03, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Schools Still Not Making the Grade


    While waxing ecstatic last month about the Pittsburgh school district's improving achievement scores in the 2008-2009 school year, the Superintendent studiously avoided a thorough discussion of some ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, July 30, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Achievement Test Results and Education Spending


    A lesson well learned by all departments reporting to the Governor is how to milk anything resembling good news and obfuscate or remain silent about less pleasant news. Recent case in point: The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 27, 2009

    Allegheny Institute Policy Brief:

    PAT Finances Suffer Despite New Contract


    State and local revenue assistance is flat, the capital budget might be raided to pay day-to-day costs, money has to be plowed into the pension fund, and the cost to patrons has to rise. These ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, July 24, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Bluhm on the Hook: But Taxpayers May Get the Bill


    With less than a month until the Rivers Casino opens in Pittsburgh the slots parlor is facing a $7.5 million payment due this October for its share of the hockey arena debt service. Predictably, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, July 14, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Pittsburgh Job Gains in Eds and Meds Are Not Unique


    As the deep recession continues to hold the economy in a tight grip, much is being made of how Pittsburgh's job market is being buoyed by the growth in the Education and Health sector. Comparative ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 06, 2009

    Budget Fact s 2009


    Today, the Commonwealth Foundation released three new Pennsylvania Budget Facts highlighting Gov. Rendell's proposals to fill a $3.2 billion revenue shortfall in the state's General Fund budget. The ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, July 06, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Population Slide Continues in City and Region


    The recently released 2008 population figures show the City of Pittsburgh posting a yearly loss of nearly 1,700 residents, continuing a trend that has been ongoing for several decades. City officials ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, July 01, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Best Laid Plans Not Good Enough


    When the Secretary of Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development rejected Pittsburgh's petition to have its Act 47 designation lifted last July, he noted that the City needed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 26, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Silly Season for Meaningless Rankings


    News magazines apparently do not have enough real news to report so they have taken to creating news by preparing a seemingly endless flood of city rankings. Evidently the competition to produce such ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 25, 2009

    City Wants Commuters, Visitors and Nonprofits to Pay More


    To say the least, there has been little or no support in the state Legislature for the Mayor's call to boost Pittsburgh's revenue by increasing taxes paid by people working in the City (through a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 19, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Recession Deepened in April



    Recession Deepened in April

    April employment numbers show a significant deepening of the recession in the Pittsburgh metro area. April data continued a disturbing trend of losses ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 12, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    Privatizing Airport Parking: Will it Fly?


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy


    June 11, 2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, June 12, 2009

    Budget Facts 2009

    From the Commonwealth Foundation


    Budget Facts 2009
    From the Commonwealth Foundation
    June 2009

    Spending Increases by Department

    Pennsylvania faces a $3 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, June 09, 2009

    Budget Facts 2009

    From the Commonwealth Foundation


    June 2009

    Pennsylvania State Budget Overview

    Pennsylvania faces a $3 billion tax revenue shortfall in the state's General Fund Budget. Competing proposals from Gov. Ed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, June 04, 2009

    Spot Appeals: Another Problem Created by Base Year Assessments


    When counties adopt a base-year assessment system, they can lock in assessed values for very long periods. As a result, tax revenues cannot grow unless; (1) there is growth in total property value ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, May 29, 2009

    Policy Brief

    Turnpike Renewing Plans to Toll I-80


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    ________________________________________
    May 29, 2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 28, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Act # 47 Errs Badly with Tax Recommendations


    Pittsburgh's Recovery Team unveiled its amended Recovery Plan last week, the latest step in the City's tenure under Act 47 distressed status that began in December of 2003. The amended Plan came ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 28, 2009

    Will More Government Spending Stimulate the Economy?


    Over the past eight years, federal, state, and local government spending increased from 30% of U.S. GDP to 35%. Economists warn that when government spending exceeds 25% of GDP, it hampers economic ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 21, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Stimulus in Allegheny County: The Seen and the Unseen


    The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act–better known as the stimulus package–will inject $377 million into Allegheny County for transportation, community improvements, and education ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 19, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Reassessments: Rhetoric and Reality


    Ever since the County scuttled its long standing commitment to carry out a property reassessment in 2005 and adopted a base year plan, the Chief Executive has defended the actions with three basic ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, May 13, 2009

    Businesses Balk at Pittsburgh Promise Program


    According to a Tribune Review report, the Pittsburgh business community has not warmed to the Pittsburgh Promise program. This is the program that plans to offer college scholarships to virtually all ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, May 12, 2009

    Where Will the Chief Executive Take Assessments Next?


    Having recently lost a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case regarding his base-year assessment scheme, the County Executive is now threatening to take the case to Federal court. Considering the lawsuit ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, May 07, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    PA Budget Debate: Where Does Government's Obligation Lie?


    Thomas Jefferson writing in the Declaration of Independence lays out the self-evident truths that form the basis of the nation's founding. To wit; all men are created equal and endowed by their ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, May 04, 2009

    PA Deficit Watch


    Pennsylvania Deficit Watch: May 2009
    Update on Pennsylvania's Revenue Shortfall from the Commonwealth Foundation
    05.04.09

    The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue released the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 30, 2009

    Supreme Court Tosses Out Allegheny County's Base Year Assessments


    "…We hold that the base year method property valuation, as applied in Allegheny County, violates the Uniformity Clause. We therefore agree that a countywide reassessment is required and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 29, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Push for City-County Merger Continues Despite Flaws, Unpopularity


    Not since the Regional Renaissance Initiative debacle has so much study group brainpower, City and County elected official political muscle, and high powered civic leadership influence been employed ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 23, 2009

    Can PA Cut Spending and Still Provide Essential Programs ~Services?


    Those who feed at the trough of taxpayer funding typically argue that the state budget can't possibly be reduced–or even see its growth limited to inflation and population growth–without ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 22, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Social Assistance Jobs to the Rescue?


    Pittsburgh area jobs continue to fall as the recession tightens its grip on the region. Bureau of Labor Statistics data for March show private payroll jobs dropping by 19,200 from the year earlier ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 20, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Economic Development


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    April 17,2009 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 14, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Legacy Costs


    Legacy costs–pensions, retiree health care, general obligation debt, and long-term workers' compensation liabilities–hang like a millstone around the City's neck. Consider these numbers ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, April 09, 2009

    IS PA a Friendly Place for Job Creators?


    Gov. Rendell frequently claims that his policies–namely increased government spending on "economic development", and the higher taxes and debt that accompany that–make ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 08, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Education Policy


    A good public school system can be, and often is, an important factor in the overall economic success of a city. At the same time, one thing is certain; bad school systems chase people with school ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, April 07, 2009

    Government Wage Mandate Squeezes Low Income Homebuyers


    In an attempt to revitalize some of Pittsburgh's declining neighborhoods, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), in conjunction with neighborhood community organizations are embarking on a project ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, April 06, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates: Taxes and Spending


    Prior to 2004, the City's tax and spending plans were almost entirely under the direction of successive City Councils and Mayoral administrations. The City, like all home rule municipalities, had to ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, April 03, 2009

    PA Deficit Watch


    Pennsylvania Deficit Watch: April 2009
    Update on Pennsylvania's Revenue Shortfall from the Commonwealth Foundation
    04.03.09

    The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue released the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, April 01, 2009

    Recession Comes to Pittsbsurgh


    After a valiant struggle through most of 2008 to elude the clutches of the recession that has hammered the nation's economy, the Pittsburgh region now appears to have fallen victim to full fledged ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, March 30, 2009

    Common Sense for Mayoral Candidates


    This year, Pittsburgh voters will cast ballots for the office of Mayor. The four year term will last until the beginning of 2014.

    What will the City look like then? It is very ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 26, 2009

    Commonwealth Foundation: Should State Government Borrow More Money?


    While Gov. Rendell is fond of claiming Pennsylvania has a low state debt burden relative to other states, this ranking excludes a vast majority of taxpayer-owed debt. In fact, state debt is ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 25, 2009

    Stimulus Spending on Schools in Inept Public Policy


    States and school districts across the country are salivating at the prospect of receiving Federal money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the stimulus bill. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 19, 2009

    Differences in Municipal Taxes and Spending


    As discussions of a City-County merger continue and issues surrounding local economic competitiveness are always a concern, it is worthwhile to examine the taxing and spending levels of the region's ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, March 11, 2009

    Are Pennsylvanians Under Taxed?


    Pennsylvania's tax burden is high, and growing, relative to the rest of the nation.

    • Pennsylvania residents pay, on average, $13,000 per person each year in ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, March 10, 2009

    Allegheny Institute

    A City Ranking That Won't Get Much Attention


    In 2007 Pittsburgh was rated as "America's Most Livable City" (Places Rated Almanac), and this past January it was crowned as the 6th best city in "Top Ten Places Where They are ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, March 05, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Casino Led Renaissance?


    Speaking at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's annual meeting, Mayor Ravenstahl told his audience that 2008 building permits for large-scale projects ($10 million or greater) showed that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 26, 2009

    Regulators Dredging up Trouble for Western PA


    Pennsylvania's Fish and Boat Commission is planning to expand the threatened and endangered species list to include five new freshwater mussels. By so doing they will effectively halt sand and ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, February 16, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Fiscal Irresponsibility Reigns in Pittsburgh as Well as in Washington


    Despite the stumbling economy and rising concerns over government budget shortfalls, political leaders are still planning to throw substantial sums of taxpayer money at projects that should be built ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, February 12, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    PA's largest municipal pension plans in serious trouble


    New data from the state's Public Employee Retirement Commission (PERC) provides the 2007 actuarial valuations and other related statistics (membership, number of plans, etc.) on Pennsylvania's local ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, February 06, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Proposal to Consolodate School Districts is a Distraction


    The Governor's recent budget message had a proposal that is cause for concern. He wants to explore the possibility of consolidating the state's 500 school districts to something he thinks is more ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 03, 2009

    Merger Advocates Need Better Arguments


    Proponents of merging the governments of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County claim the county's numerous municipalities hinder economic growth. Recently a local advocate said, "We know businesses ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, February 03, 2009

    PA Deficit Watch

    Updates on PA's revenue shortfall


    The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue released the January revenue collections showing state General Fund revenues are $1.08 billion short for the fiscal year to date.

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, January 30, 2009

    Recession Hits Region's Employment


    While jobs news from across the country has been horrible for several months, until very recently the Pittsburgh region was able to resist the weakness, showing small year over year gains. Now it ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 28, 2009

    Port Authority's Convenient Memory Loss


    In an effort to explain the recent revelation that the North Shore Connector would need another $117.8 million to complete–bringing the total cost to $553 million–a Port Authority (PAT) ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, January 22, 2009

    Proposal to Lease Parking to Fund Pensions Raises Opportunities, Questions


    Seeking a major infusion of cash for the City's three pension plans, the Mayor of Pittsburgh has proposed leasing parking facilities owned by the City's Parking Authority. The Mayor is to be ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 20, 2009

    $533 Million and Counting for PAT's Big Dig


    We knew it was coming. The folks at the Port Authority (PAT) have now admitted what everyone has known for some time: $435 million will not be enough to complete Allegheny County's biggest boondoggle ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, January 14, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    Why the Surge in Pittsburg Region's Labor Force?


    The Pittsburgh MSA (metro area) labor force showed surprisingly strong gains in 2008 following a four year period (2003 to 2007) in which the region's labor force actually fell by over 15,000, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, January 06, 2009

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Pathetic State of the Pittsburgh Public School District


    Problems for the Pittsburgh Public School District continue to mount. For the current school year enrollment is 26,649, declining more than 1,600 students from the previous year. Moreover, the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, December 22, 2008

    Science Test Scores Paint a Disturbing Picture of Education


    It is a constant refrain: Our children must do better in science and math if the nation hopes to compete effectively in the 21st century. Sadly, if recently released (2008) science test scores of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, December 19, 2008

    Allegheny County Headed to Court over Plan to Spend Drink Taxes


    So now it begins. Yet another lawsuit has been filed against Allegheny County for violating or getting ready to violate state law. As we wrote in an earlier Policy Brief (Volume 8, Number 55), the ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 11, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    PAT Bus Service Still Has the Highest Employee Costs in the Nation


    As a backdrop to Port Authority (PAT) labor negotiations it is useful to remember how costly bus service is in Allegheny County. In 2007, the latest year of available Federal Transit Administration ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, December 04, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Little Cheer for Taxpayers in Transit Contract


    If the Port Authority (PAT) and Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) agree to sign off on a tentative agreement that will set contract terms through 2012, the two parties will be walking ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, December 03, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Time to Outlaw Transit Strikes in PA


    While the terms of a new contract agreement between the Port Authority and the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 have yet to be approved by either the Board or the drivers, many passengers, ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 20, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Tallying Recent Teacher Strikes Across the Nation


    Newsflash: Pennsylvania maintains its long held number one ranking as the state with the most teacher strikes. During the period beginning with school year 2000-2001 and running through school year ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 19, 2008

    Affordable Education Remains PASSHE's Top Priority


    SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY CENTER POLICY BRIEF
    www.susvalleypolicy.org

    AFFORDABLE EDUCATION REMAINS PASSHE'S TOP PRIORITY

    By John C. ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, November 14, 2008

    Pittsburgh's Budget: Legacy Costs Have Large and Lasting Impact


    For the 2009 budget and the years beyond, legacy costs–pensions, retiree health care, workers' compensation, and debt–will dominate the discussion about taxes, spending, the level of ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, November 12, 2008

    Harrisburg's Most Powerful Special Interest

    New policy brief addresses the impact of unions on public education


    NEWS RELEASE from the Commonwealth Foundation
    11.12.08

    Harrisburg's Most Powerful Special Interest
    New policy brief addresses the impact of unions on public education

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, November 11, 2008

    Policy Brief:

    Adding Up the Costs of Pittsburgh School District's Failures


    Pittsburgh Public Schools face serious problems–high per pupil spending (almost $20,000) and a rapidly declining enrollment (18 percent in the last four years) –that are seemingly ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, November 06, 2008

    Promises, Promises


    Here's a stunner. Based on the 2008 general fund budget of $526.6 million and a September enrollment of 26,649, the Pittsburgh Public Schools are spending at a rate of $19,796 per student. This in a ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 27, 2008

    Water and Sewer Ballot Question


    POLICY POINTS from the Commonwealth Foundation
    10.27.08

    Water and Sewer Ballot Question

    When Pennsylvania voters head to the polls on November 4, 2008, they will also ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, October 27, 2008

    Socking it to the Airlines at Pittsburgh International


    Policy Brief
    An electronic publication of
    The Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

    ________________________________________
    October 27, 2008 ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 22, 2008

    Analyzing the Talk About a Transit Shutdown


    For months we have been watching a marathon bargaining impasse between the County Executive and the Port Authority Board on one side and the Amalgamated Transit workers on the other. The impasse is ...

    [View Full Article]

    Thu, October 16, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    The Great Transit Tax Grab of 2008


    In a stunning stretch of logic and reason, the County Executive–the same County Executive who has gone to great lengths to convince the public that new taxes on drinks and car rentals were ...

    [View Full Article]

    Wed, October 08, 2008

    Ending the Tax Referendum Legal Dispute


    Who has the power to set tax rates in a home rule community? A definitive answer to that question will go a long way in determining who retains ultimate sovereignty in communities that have adopted ...

    [View Full Article]

    Tue, October 07, 2008

    More Self-Congratulatory Blather About PA Job Picture


    The Governor remains optimistic about Pennsylvania's job situation. He compares employment changes in the Commonwealth to the nation as a whole and notes in the August Employment Report that ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 29, 2008

    Uncovering the True Cost of Government Retiree Benefits


    State and local governments across the nation are coming face to face with the true cost of post-retirement benefits thanks to an accounting rule change mandated by the Governmental Accounting ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 19, 2008

    Allegheny Institute

    Failed Attempt to Toll I-80 Costly to Taxpayers


    The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) rejected the plan to toll Interstate 80. Tolling I-80 was the linchpin of Pennsylvania's transportation funding under Act 44 and was to provide funds for ...

    [View Full Article]

    Mon, September 15, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    A Stacked Deck Favors the Transit Union


    When one party to a negotiation, because of law and prior experience, holds all the metaphorical high cards, it is child's play to predict who will come out on top in the bargaining process. Such is ...

    [View Full Article]

    Fri, September 12, 2008

    Allegheny Institute:

    Drink Tax Referenda Questions: Ballot Incompatible


    Presently weaving their way through the courts, the dueling referenda questions on the County's drink tax could both end up on the November ballot. But as our analysis shows that should not be ...

    [View Full Article]

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