Why We Need a Property Tax Circuit Breaker

Statement of Marc Stier at Senator Jimmy Dillon / Representative Robert Freeman press conference on establishing a property tax circuit breaker in Pennsylvania on April 25, 2023 I’m very pleased to stand with Senator Jimmy Dillon and Representative Robert Freeman in support of establishing a property tax circuit breaker in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center first proposed such a plan in 2015 and our new organization, the Pennsylvania Policy Center, continues to support it. Representative Freeman has long championed it, and we are glad to see Senator Dillion become a champion of it as well. Pennsylvania has long had a serious problem: our tax system is unfair. State and local taxes in our commonwealth place a much greater burden on families with low incomes and moderate incomes than those with high incomes. Just to give you an idea of how unfair our tax system is, consider this: The… Continue reading

Bipartisan: the Word of the Year

PBPC director Marc Stier made these remarks to the Press Club of Pennsylvania on Monday, March 13, 2023. “Bipartisan” is the word of the year in Pennsylvania. Leaders such as Governor Shapiro, President Pro Tem Ward, and Speaker McClinton are extolling bipartisanship. And how could they not do so? The extreme and growing partisan division we have seen in this country since 2016 is scary. Journalists like you and policy wonks like me have a personal stake in bipartisanship. I’d love to run what you call a left of center policy shop that can hand a 20-page, carefully researched report to a Republican legislator without him or her immediately dismissing it unread because it contains “liberal facts.” I’m sure many reporters want to go back to the days when it is possible to do Democrats said / Republicans said reporting without worrying about whether you have an ethical responsibility to… Continue reading

STATEMENT on Rep. Joanna McClinton’s New Role as Speaker of the PA House of Representatives

We at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center are thrilled by the vote to elect Representative Joanna McClinton to be Pennsylvania’s speaker of the House of Representatives. Rep. McClinton is not only a dynamic leader but has been a long-time supporter of many of the policies we have put forward. She is also one of the first leaders in the House of Representatives to have endorsed the agenda of our advocacy campaign, We The People–PA. The election of the first Black woman speaker of the House is also a breakthrough moment that, we hope, is another sign of our state’s commitment to overcoming its legacy of white supremacy. We also want to acknowledge the important role Representative Mark Rozzi has played as speaker. His skillful leadership in his first term made this moment possible and led to the passage last week of bills containing a proposed statute and a constitutional… Continue reading

Testimony to Speaker Rozzi’s Workgroup on House Rules

Testimony by Marc Stier, director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, to Speaker Rozzi’s Workgroup on House Rules. St. Joseph’s University, Friday, January 27, 2023 My name is Marc Stier. I’m the director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, and I live in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. I want to thank you, Speaker Rozzi, and the members of the workgroup for creating this opportunity for the people of Pennsylvania to speak out about the rules of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. This process has been criticized by those who say that it is delaying the start of the legislative session. But what is more important for the House of Representatives to undertake now than to fix the rules that have too often led to undemocratic results in Harrisburg? Our organization believes that there are two fundamental problems with the way the House has operated in the… Continue reading

STATEMENT: PA Senate Hijacks Justice for Sexual Abuse Survivors With Passage of Constitutional Amendments Package

In passing SB 1, the Pennsylvania Senate has hijacked the issue of providing relief to victims of sexual abuse to pass other constitutional amendments. It used a noncontroversial, bipartisan proposal to help pass controversial and partisan amendments that are bad policy and the subject of litigation. The proposal to provide a window for sexual abuse survivors to sue their abusers is an important step toward justice. We strongly support it. The other amendments do not serve the people of Pennsylvania but the political goals of one party. One of the partisan amendments would require voters to submit a government-issued ID every time they vote, even mandating that they provide copies of their IDs along with their mail ballots. We know that requiring a government-issued ID would make it impossible for some people to vote. This would disproportionately affect seniors and Black voters. Requiring voters to include a copy of their… Continue reading

PBPC Statement on PA House Elections 2022

While we are still waiting for final election results in a number of districts, all indications point to the Democrats taking control of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. If they do, Rep. Joanna McClinton will become the Speaker of the House, the first Black woman to do so. For the last twenty years, gerrymandered legislative districts have enabled the Republicans to control the PA House of Representatives even though, in most of those years, a majority of votes for state representative went to Democrats. Republican control of the PA House of Representatives has stood in the way of enacting a great deal of legislation that has broad, and in many cases, bipartisan support, including raising the minimum wage, fixing an unfair tax system in which families in the top 1% pay taxes at half the rate as families in the middle, fully and fairly funding pre-K and K-12 education, making… Continue reading

The Truth About Murder In Pennsylvania

Violent crime, especially murder, shocks us all. It directly harms the victims of crime. It undermines the sense of security of all of us. And it creates difficulties for our communities. High crime rates in a community both discourage business investment and consumption, leading to economic distress and poverty. These are all reasons for our political leaders to talk about crime and how to control it often and honestly. Sadly, however, in this election season Republican politicians have talked incessantly but, in more than one respect, have failed to do so honestly. To begin with, they have blamed Democrats— including Philadelphia’s district attorney, Larry Krasner—for the recent rise in the murder rate in the United States. But the notion that the murder rate is increasing faster in Democratic cities or states or Philadelphia than in Republican-controlled jurisdictions is demonstrably false. Even worse, they consistently put forward proposals for reducing the… Continue reading

PBPC on the PA Budget: This Is NOT a Budget for the People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 7, 2022 Contact: Kirstin Snow, snow@pennbpc.org To: Members of the PA General Assembly, State Legislative Staff, Political reporters, Editorial Board Writers, and Columnists From: Marc Stier, Director, PA Budget and Policy Center Statement on Proposed Budget: PA Budget & Policy Center – This is NOT a budget for the people The new Pennsylvania Budget is a deep disappointment for Pennsylvania. At a time when the state is flush with cash, the Republican-led General Assembly has failed to meet the immediate needs of the vast majority of Pennsylvanians or invest enough in our future. Yet the budget does include an unnecessary and costly long-term cut in corporate taxes causing a one-year loss of $250 million in revenue in the current fiscal year will grow, to $2.25 billion per year at the end of eight years. Yet the state will still not ask wealthy, multinational corporations to pay… Continue reading

STATEMENT: We The People – PA on the State Budget Negotiations

It appears that state budget negotiations are continuing and we may have some announcement of a budget deal in the next day or so. We The People – PA will release another short statement when we have some details. But today we want to comment on the last few weeks of public debate in Harrisburg because it’s deeply revealing of the different approaches of the two parties. One of those parties has been trying to bring people in our state together. The other has been trying to divide us. One party has seriously addressed real issues we all care about. The other has been making issues up so they can turn Pennsylvanian against Pennsylvanian. All Pennsylvanians share some common interests; no matter where we live in the state, what we look like, how rich or poor we are, or what work we do, we want jobs to be created and… Continue reading