News & Brews June 3, 2021

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PA ranks 40th in economic performance

According to the latest annual Rich States, Poor States ranking of state economic competitiveness, issued by the American Legislative Exchange Council, Pennsylvania ranks 36th in economic outlook and 40th in economic performance. The “outlook” ranking is a forward-looking forecast based on 15 policy variables, and the “performance” ranking is a backward-looking evaluation based on cumulative GDP growth from 2009-19, cumulative domestic migration from 2010-19, and non-farm employment growth from 2009-19. Read the full report here, or view Pennsylvania-specific information here.

Lawmaker proposes alternative to tolling nine bridges

Spurred in part by PennDOT’s controversial plan to toll nine bridges across Pennsylvania, Sen. Wayne Langerholc (Bedford, Cambria, and Clearfield counties) is introducing legislation he explains is “an alternative solution instead of a tacit approval to impose taxes, tolls or user fees on hardworking Pennsylvanians as we recover from the pandemic.” The Tribune-Democrat reports that among the ideas in Langerholc’s proposal are “[u]ser fees for electric vehicles, tighter review of PennDOT spending, and more existing funds directed to highways, bridges, passenger rail and the Pennsylvania Turnpike.” Click here and scroll down a bit for more details.

Legislation would require transparency for lawmaker expenses

Proposed legislation is in the works that would require the House and Senate to post details on lawmakers’ expenses including per diems, state vehicle usage, and other expense reimbursements. The proposal is being drafted by Democrat Sen. Lindsey Williams (Allegheny County) and Republican Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (York County). A recent investigation by Spotlight PA showed select lawmakers take in lots—and lots—of money in per diems. (Kudos to those who refuse per diems.). The top spender during the four years reviewed was Rep. Chris Sainato (Lawrence County), who collected about $235,000 in per diems and other reimbursements.

Op-Ed: Four ways PA government can get our state back to work

Our friend Guy Ciarrocchi, CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, has an op-ed in Broad + Liberty outlining four steps government can take to get Pennsylvanians back to work. Among them, offering limited liability protection to employers and opting out of the extra $300 per week in federal unemployment benefits. (Also, teaser alert: there is a Wawa v. Sheetz reference. Thankfully, Guy correctly identifies the superior one.)

Lawmakers want to quickly reinstate work-search requirements

Several bills have been introduced that would end the moratorium on work-search requirements in PA, even before the July 18 date set by the Wolf administration. The Morning Call takes a look at the debate over whether the struggle to find workers is due to increased unemployment benefits or to other factors.

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