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Category Archives: News

Workforce development news from Pennsylvania and across the U.S.

Then and now: Why the 1986 tax bill was everything 2017’s isn’t

From the Associated Press

They don’t do tax reform like they used to.

The legislation that House and Senate Republicans have embraced has revived memories of Congress’ most recent major tax overhaul three decades ago.

But the similarities tend to end there.

The Tax Reform Act of 1986 was everything this year’s version isn’t. It was the product of a year and a half of spirited deliberations. It won support from both Democrats and Republicans. Its benefits flowed more to ordinary taxpayers than to corporations and wealthy individuals. And it added nothing to the federal deficit.

Assessing the measure on its 20th anniversary, the conservative Tax Foundation said it “stands as a rare example of bipartisan support for fundamentally sound tax policy.”

That was then.

The 2017 tax overhaul? It was written on the fly. Congress held no hearings on the key details. The bill drew no Democratic votes. Independent analyses have said most of the gains will flow to corporations and rich individuals.

In the Senate, some provisions were scribbled onto the bill in nearly illegible handwriting in the final hours. Republicans released a 479-page version of the bill just before the vote, leaving senators with scarcely time to absorb what was in it. Democrats complained that their information about the measure was coming mainly from lobbyists.

The Senate bill would permanently slash the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent. By contrast, the tax cuts for individuals would expire after 2026. The measure would revamp the estate tax to cover fewer wealthy families.

The bounty from the Senate bill would go increasingly […]

Lancaster County commissioner announces candidacy for lieutenant governor


A Lancaster County commissioner has joined the field of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination to be Gov. Tom Wolf’s running mate in next year’s gubernatorial election.

Craig Lehman, 54, of Lancaster, announced his intention to run for the second-in-command post on Tuesday, becoming the fifth declared candidate seeking that office and the second county commissioner.

In a statement, Lehman, who has served as a county commissioner since 2008, said, “Today’s political environment makes it extremely difficult to solve important problems, both large and small. If we are to move Pennsylvania forward, we need to find common ground and work together. Failing to do so only sets Pennsylvania up for failure. As lieutenant governor, I will work with the other reasoned voices in Harrisburg to help our commonwealth succeed.”

He vowed to employ the same approach to the office that he has taken as a commissioner in supporting “policies and programs that make sense” and speak “out when necessary all while working to find solutions to real problems.”

Read more.

Legislators leave for the holiday without voting on Marcellus Shale tax proposal


Legislation in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives to impose a long-sought tax on Marcellus Shale natural gas production is up in the air until December.

The Republican-controlled House adjourned until Dec. 4, after spending parts of Monday and Tuesday debating proposed amendments by Republicans who oppose a tax in the nation’s No. 2 gas state.

Dozens of proposed amendments are still lined up, and House Republican leadership opposes the bill. Supporters of a tax include most Democrats and Republicans from southeastern Pennsylvania, but some say industry-friendly amendments to the bill may change their minds.

The Republican-penned proposal raises less money than the 6.5 percent tax proposed by Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

The bill’s volume tax rises with the price of natural gas and would raise about $100 million in a full year, using 2016 production and current prices.


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Panel: Students need more help post-graduation

From the (Lancaster) Intelligencer

Students graduating high school and college can’t find good-paying jobs in Pennsylvania, and employers can’t find skilled workers to fill open positions. The people are out there, the jobs are out there, but the connections are not.

More than 20 business and community leaders met in Montgomery County on Monday [November 20, 2017] morning to discuss those issues and other reasons why the middle-class job market has become an uncertainty for the up-and-coming generation.

“There are unemployed people and there are job openings,” said Guy Ciarrocchi, president and CEO of the Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry. “Two challenges are getting people to the jobs, the transportation, and training them to do the work. There are hundreds of jobs at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and they can’t find the people with those skills. We need to increase communication to put them in position to succeed.”

Ciarrocchi shared his thoughts during the final regional meeting of Gov. Tom Wolf’s Middle Class Task Force. The Pennsylvania governor created the task force in February to drill deep into the challenges and best practices of job markets throughout the state, taking into account the socioeconomic, educational and institutional obstacles workers face while trying to either break into the middle class or sustain financial stability. The roundtable was held at Merck’s offices in Upper Gwynedd.

A final presentation will be made to Wolf in the next few weeks.

The findings from the months-long analysis will help shape policy decisions, according to a representative from Wolf’s office.

A common theme emerged Monday during the […]

State WD Board meets, votes, offers WIOA funding allocation overview

On November 14, the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board met and tackled a full agenda. Aside from reports from committees and workgroups, the board voted unanimously on an Infrastructure Funding Formula for Non-Consensus. Following is language adopted by unanimous vote: 

“In the event of local non-consensus regarding infrastructure funding of a PA CareerLink® center or centers, the governor’s formula for determining a local areas’s budget should include the following factors: 

  • The number of PA CareerLink® centers in the local area;
  • The total population served by the centers;
  • The services provided by those centers; and
  • Any factors relating to the operations of such centers in the local area that the State WDB determines are appropriate.”

Additionally, a member of the Department of Labor & Industry’s Bureau of Workforce Development Administration offered an overview of the WIOA funding allocation. The PowerPoint presentation is included at the link below.

WIOA funding allocation overview_Nov 17

In shake-up, Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidate to run for Lt. Gov., join Wagner ticket


WASHINGTON — In a shake-up for two statewide races, Main Line Republican Jeff Bartos is dropping out of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race and joining the gubernatorial ticket of State Sen. Scott Wagner, according to three Pennsylvania GOP sources.

A formal announcement is expected Thursday.

Bartos will run as Wagner’s lieutenant governor candidate. His decision removes the main obstacle for U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta on his path to the Republican nomination for the Senate.

 Barletta and Bartos had been the two most active figures among a handful of Republicans vying for the chance to challenge the incumbent senator, Democrat Bob Casey, next year.
Read more.

Wolf Admin., United Way of SE PA announce new app to help students with disabilities find jobs that pay

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Executive Director for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) David DeNotaris with United Way of Southwestern PA’s Director of Programs for Seniors & People with Disabilities Heather Sedlacko, announced the launch of the new ‘PA Planning for the Future Checklist’ app to help students with disabilities transition from high school to employment and find jobs that pay.

The new and innovative app supports Pennsylvania students with disabilities as they prepare for employment, continuing education and further inclusion into the community. The ‘PA Planning for the Future Checklist’ app, available for free on both iOS and Android, consists of various steps and tips to prepare students with disabilities from age 14-21 for adulthood. Each stage of the checklist lists fundamental activities that should be reviewed to help reach goals after high school, including continuing education or employment.

“This new app prepares students for their future in either post-secondary education or employment, offering them access to information, education and training resources, and eventually, success in a job that pays,” said DeNotaris. “Pennsylvania saw 13,187 individuals with a disability enter the workforce in the last year – the largest of any state in the nation.”

“We are proud of this achievement, but we must continue our efforts to provide students with disabilities the opportunities to seek further education and meaningful employment,” DeNotaris added.

DeNotaris and Sedlacko spoke to students with disabilities during an Early Reach training session at the Pittsburgh OVR District Office. Early Reach is an initiative spearheaded by OVR that targets information and outreach […]

Are Pennsylvania’s economy and tax collections strengthening?

From the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy

Frank Gamrat, Ph.D., Sr. Research Associate
Jake Haulk, Ph.D., President

Text of Nov. 8 column.

Volume 17, Number 45

Summary: In the shadow of this year’s budget crisis, the amount of total general fund revenues has quietly surpassed last year’s total both on a calendar and current fiscal year basis. The three largest tax revenue collections, corporate net income, personal income, and sales and use are definitely improved from last year. Does this represent a turn-around for the state’s economy? Too soon to say.


When the Legislature passed the spending plan for Pennsylvania’s 2017-18 fiscal year, only half of the budget process had been completed. The second half, finding the revenue, including borrowing against future income, to pay for it all, was completed in late October when the governor signed the revenue bills. The latest budget crisis lasted nearly four months (see Policy Brief Vol 17, No. 30).

A $1.1 billion shortfall in FY 2016-17 revenue below projections, resulting in a carried over deficit, have compounded the funding search for FY 2017-18. The $31.8 billion in approved expenditures for the current fiscal year represents an increase of 1.5 percent over last fiscal year’s $31.3 billion general fund budget. In total, the new revenue bill needed to raise an additional $2 billion, which the agreed-upon spending bill appears to do—on paper at least. Gaming options are being expanded along with substantial borrowing against future receipts from the tobacco settlement. Obviously, these borrowed funds will have to be repaid out of future tax revenues that will need to rise […]

Goodbye student loan interest deduction? How the GOP tax plan impacts you


Several less scrutinized elements of the U.S. House GOP tax reform plan could seriously impact those paying for college or still paying down college loans, including the elimination of a popular student loan interest deduction.

That’s a particular concern for Pennsylvanians, considering that students here have  the second-highest amount of per student debt of any state in the nation.

Here’s a look at the proposed tax changes and what they mean for you.

Student loans and tuition assistance 

One of the most popular tax deductions in the crosshairs is one that allows people paying off student loans to deduct up to $2,500 in interest from their tax burden. According to the IRS, some 12.4 million people claimed the deduction in 2015, although in practice most taxpayers are able to claim far less than the full $2,500.

People whose employers contribute a portion of their higher education costs would see that money become taxable income under the GOP plan. A similar tax break for university employees and their families would also be jettisoned.

Republicans estimate that these measures would raise $47.5 billion over the next 10 years.

Read more.

PA Workforce Development Association