News & Brews February 17, 2021

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PIT, minimum wage take center stage on 1st day of budget hearings

As House budget hearings launched yesterday, Republicans were unpersuaded by Gov. Wolf’s proposal to hike the personal income tax (PIT) rate by 46% and raise the state’s government-mandated minimum wage to $15 per hour. Among their primary concerns are Wolf’s dramatic expansion of those he would consider below the poverty level, the constitutionality of Wolf’s backdoor-graduated tax plan (given our state constitution requires that taxes be uniform), and the threat of significant job loss from a minimum wage hike. If you like reading budget reports, here’s the update the state’s Independent Fiscal Office prepared for yesterday’s hearing (the charts on p. 25 look specifically at Wolf’s recommended PIT increase).

*And on the minimum wage, this seems a good time to share some wisdom from the great Thomas Sowell: “Unfortunately, the real minimum wage is always zero, regardless of the laws, and that is the wage that many workers receive in the wake of the creation or escalation of a government-mandated minimum wage, because they either lose their jobs or fail to find jobs when they enter the labor force.”

Op-Ed: It’s time to do right by kids

“‘Schools that teach’ sounded great as Gov. Wolf’s campaign slogan in 2014 and 2018. But two years into Wolf’s second term, many parents are relegated to wishing for ‘schools that open.'” So begins an op-ed in Broad + Liberty by our president and CEO Matt Brouillette. Matt looks at Gov. Wolf’s proposal to pour more than a billion additional dollars into schools, regardless of whether they’re open, and then shares a better solution that’s being proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, Education Committee Chair Sen. Scott Martin, and Sen. John DiSanto.

MontCo’s Gale brothers announce for governor, senate

Montgomery County Republican Commissioner Joe Gale and his younger brother, Sean, yesterday announced their candidacies for governor and U.S. Senate, respectively. Both brothers are vocally pro-Trump, and Joe Gale has been an outspoken critic of the Republican establishment, including running against an endorsed candidate. The Inquirer has more.

Controversial report questions benefits of natural gas

The natural gas industry is rejecting as “misleading” a new report funded largely by the Heinz Endowments (which has also funded groups like the progressive left-wing Keystone Research Center here in PA) that claims the gas industry hasn’t delivered on its economic promise to communities. Among the criticisms is that the report ignores data as well as “on-the-ground experiences,” says Marcellus Shale Coalition President David Callahan. He further stated the report “reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how our industry benefits all sectors of the economy.”

Livestream: Get the facts on education spending in PA

Our friend Rep. Andrew Lewis (Dauphin County), a leader in advocating for expanding educational opportunity, will host a Facebook Live event this afternoon at 3pm on some little-known facts about education spending in PA. How much do we spend? Where does the money come from? Where does it go? Tune in at 3pm on Rep. Lewis’s Facebook page (click on “videos” in the menu bar).

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