Rejecting Medicaid Expansion the Right Call

I would like to commend the 38 state house members that presented a unified voice in opposition to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion provision.

Even without this expansion, Medicaid costs are unsustainable. Over the last decade, program spending increased more than 80 percent, nearly twice as much as personal income. Medicaid now consumes 30 percent of Pennsylvania’s total state operating budget and is projected to grow for years to come.  Continue reading

Coalition Seeks Tax Break for Big Oil in Budget

It appears that Pennsylvania will have its budget passed on time without any tax increases for the second consecutive year. The Governor and lawmakers agreed on a spending framework and are now negotiating specific line items.

As a part of a budget deal, some Democratic and Republican policymakers are advocating for a plan set to award Shell Oil a prolonged tax credit in exchange for the construction of a natural gas cracker plant in Western Pennsylvania. Proponents argue that the Shell Plant will bolster the state economy by creating thousands of jobs. However, in reality, Pennsylvania has a long history with targeted tax credits and little to show for it.
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State Store System a Failure

Letter to the Editor: Lancaster New Era Newspaper

Union President Wendell Young IV wants the public to believe that government-run state liquor stores are working. Young asserts that the government monopoly represents a cash cow for state coffers. He argues that liquor privatization will cease to generate revenues for the treasury.
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ObamaCare: The Wrong Prescription for Pennsylvania

March 23rd marked the second anniversary of President Obama’s signing of his signature healthcare bill into law. The administration’s celebration lethargic celebration was largely overshadowed by the pending Supreme Court decision on the act’s constitutionality. The controversial law has only exacerbated uncertainty in the weak economy. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi infamously stated, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Now that two years have passed and thousands of pages of regulations have been written, independent policy analysts at the Congressional Budget Office assert that ObamaCare is nothing more than a series of broken promises wrongly suited for both America and Pennsylvania.

In an attempt to sell his plan to the American people, President Obama promised citizens that were satisfied with their current healthcare coverage that they would be able to keep their plan. Unfortunately, the CBO has estimated that a staggering 20 million Americans will lose their employer-provided coverage as a direct result of ObamaCare. This disheartening reality will betray millions of Americans as the President’s centerpiece for reform ensured that employer-converage would remain intact.

Additionally, President Obama pledged to make healthcare more affordable by lowering family premiums by as much as $2,500. In contrast to the proposed savings, CBO calculations project that family premiums will actually increase by more than $2,100 by the year 2016. An Annals of Family Medicine study determined that costs will continue to rise. In the year 2021, the average family’s premiums are projected to equal half of their median household income. This unsustainable trend is expected to continue to the point where insurance costs will exceed family incomes by 2033.

ObamaCare represents a government takeover of the healthcare system and the implications for Pennsylvanians are alarming to say the least. Reports indicate that in less than one decade, more than 800,000 Keystone residents will be added to Medicaid. A staggering one out of four Pennsylvanians will be enrolled into this government insurance program. Medicaid currently consumes more than 30 percent of the entire state’s operating budget. In a national comparison, this represents the second largest share of any state. The influx of nearly a million extra enrollees will only accelerate the rapidly rising public welfare spending and will undoubtedly impose further hardships on the state budget. In exchange for the lavish price tag, Pennsylvanian will expand a government insurance program which is notorious for providing less than adequate healthcare services.

The ObamaCare debacle is only beginning to take its toll on the American people. Two years after its enactment, it is becoming abundantly clear that President Obama’s promises were nothing more than hopeful rhetoric. Americans are now faced with many uncertainties. Employer coverage is anticipated to drop by the tends of millions while healthcare costs are projected to steadily rise. As a result, state government are burdened by a massive expansion in Medicaid. This does not even take into account the half a billion dollars in taxes or the individual mandate current before the Supreme Court. The justices must acknowledge ObamaCare’s assault on the Constitution, which enables government’s ability to regulate inactivity. Constitutional or not, it is absolutely essential that the government’s takeover of healthcare is repealed so that Americans can move forward with market reforms and competition.

Democrat Touts Hollywood Handout

As part of the Democratic Caucus’ 2011-2012 policy agenda, Democratic leaders issued a platform for accountable government operations free from corporate and outside influences. The pledge of good governance was to be accompanied by fair fiscal policy aimed at protecting working families from tax increases and ensuring that out-of-state corporate interests pay their fair share. However, just last week, thanks to Pennsylvania’s film tax credit for movie producers, House Democrat Paul Costa celebrated a multimillion-dollar film project in his district. The Allegheny County lawmaker boasts many years of hard work in maintaining his corporate welfare program. He credits himself for the creation of thousands of jobs and nearly a billion dollars of economic activity since 2007. Interestingly, research and policy analysis debuts a much different tale, one of special interests putting taxpayers last.

According to Rep. Costa and reports by the Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Governor Rendell’s $60 million film tax credit appears to be an important investment for Pennsylvania. Advocates of the film tax credit argue that the tax incentive is responsible for thousands of jobs and increased economic activity in the Commonwealth. The problem with their claims is that the report does not show a direct relationship between tax credits and increased film production. The report acknowledges that the majority of film producers do not even apply for the film tax credit which indicates that the tax incentive is not nearly as strong as proponents believe.

In reality, the tax credits are ineffective in providing substantive increases in economic output. Policy analysis also indicates that tax credits fall short in paying for themselves. States with the most robust film tax credits report a meager twenty cents in tax revenue for every dollar given out in credit. In Pennsylvania, the $60 million dollars in tax credits are allegedly accompanied by $18 million additional dollars in tax revenues. This leaves two-thirds of the tax credit on the taxpayer’s tab. The film tax credit effectively mitigates the industry’s tax liabilities into an increased share of the state’s tax burden on both workers and businesses.

Democratic Rep. Costa’s beloved film tax credit is in direct opposition to his caucus agenda. The corporate welfare program enables Hollywood Studios to prosper at the expense of Pennsylvania’s hard-working families. The program provides neither substantial economic activity nor enough tax revenues to be self-sufficient. The film tax credit represents yet another special interest successfully lobbying for private privilege with the deception of fostering real economic growth. As a result, many states have decided to put taxpayers first and have abandoned their film tax credit programs.