PA Must Reads: New Year, Same Old Economic Austerity
A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at Third and State.
From November 2009 to November 2010, Pennsylvania added 63,300 jobs. From November 2010 to November 2011, the state added just 51,000.
Wait, isn’t that backwards? Nope. A weak economy, the end of federal Recovery Act funds and state budget cuts slowed the pace of Pennsylvania job growth in the most recent year.
The big question mark going forward is whether the pace of job growth in the Commonwealth will continue to lag the rest of the country. Key will be whether school districts continue to face large budget deficits.
The news out of Stroudsburg this morning suggests this is going to be another challenging year for the Pennsylvania job market.
- Christina Tatu, Pocono Record Writer — Stroudsburg Area School District facing $9.8 million deficit:
Larger class sizes, staff reductions, eliminating elective courses for students or a wage concession are possible remedies to close a projected $9.8 million deficit in the Stroudsburg Area School District budget, said Business Manager Don Jennings.
As school districts continue to add people to the unemployment lines, the Corbett administration is looking to make the situation that much worse by adding costly new regulations to address a problem that doesn’t exist.
- Alfred Lubrano, The Philadelphia Inquirer — Pennsylvania to impose asset test for food stamps:
Pennsylvania plans to make the amount of food stamps that people receive contingent on the assets they possess — an unexpected move that bucks national trends and places the commonwealth among a minority of states…
The DPW plan caught many by surprise, but has been widely condemned by Philadelphia city officials, business leaders statewide, and advocates for the poor.
They point to federal statistics showing that Pennsylvania has one of the lowest food-stamp fraud rates in the nation: one-tenth of 1 percent.
In fact, the state recently won a federal award for running its program efficiently, federal officials say.
Moreover, about 30 percent of people who are eligible for food stamps in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation don’t access them, making the entitlement program under-subscribed.
Critics of the DPW plan say it would particularly punish elderly people saving for their burials, poor people trying to save enough money to get out of poverty, and working- and middle-class people who lost their jobs in the recession and may now have to liquidate assets to feed their families.