Pa Unemployment Fund $2 Billion In Red

Pa Unemployment Fund $2 Billion In Red — Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Fund has a balance of $125 million and a debt of $2.05 billion, which was borrowed from the federal government.

To try and pay it off the state’s employers will pay $48 more per employee in unemployment taxes in 2010 which will be $432 per worker. Which of course means the employers will be less likely to hire. Which of course means continued high unemployment.

Pennsylvania’s debt puts it behind California at $6.4 billion; Michigan, $3.29 billion; and New York, $2.3 billion.

Here’s how Pa. ranks regarding unemployment tax per worker.

Kudos to Nate Benefield for the tip.

Pa Unemployment Fund $2 Billion In Red

Pa Unemployment Fund $2 Billion In Red

Inky Uphappy Over Free Speech Ruling

The Philadelphia Inquirer  — in its news stories and opinion columns — seems unhappy with yesterday’s 5-4 ruling in which the Supreme Court said that well a privately funded documentary regarding a political figure is just as protected by the First Amendment as, well,  a 60 Minutes documentary regarding a political figure.

The decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission  overturns laws prohibiting corporations and unions from contributing to political campaigns.

Sounds bad? Maybe until you realize that what it does is level the field a little between, say, the owner of a chain of pizza shops and George Soros, and would allow that pizza shop owner to attempt to influence an election to the same degree as Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC.

Here’s what the court says:

Although the First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” §441b’s prohibition on corporate independent expenditures is an outright ban on speech, backed by criminal sanctions. It is a ban not withstanding the fact that a PAC created by a corporation can still speak, for a PAC is a separate association from the corporation. Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy—it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people—political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence.

Why would the Inky take issue?

And while on the topic of the Inky, today’s editorial concerns the Luzerne County judge scandal. Still no mention of the party that starts with the letter D.

Philly ACORN Sues Journalists

The office director for ACORN Housing Corporation in Philadelphia sued a pair of investigative journalist, Jan. 21, in U.S. District Court For The Eastern District Of Pennsylvania on the grounds they violated Pennsylvania’s wiretap law when they sought counseling from the office regarding how best to set up a prostitution business using minor girls illegally in this country.

The plaintiff is Katherine Conway-Russell. The journalists are James E. O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles.

The PDF of the complaint can be found here.

SEPTA Sues Goldman Sachs Over Pension Fund Performance

Well the shoe was eventually going to drop.

Concerns over the state of SEPTA’ s pension fund has caused it to sue Goldman Sachs Group Inc. regarding the way it was managed.

SEPTA is claiming Goldman Sachs pays it’s executives too much. SEPTA wants Goldman to make up the value in lost stock holdings.

The fund was worth $640 million at the time of September’s strike — down from $719 million in June 2008 but up from $471 million in March.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Delaware Chancery Court.

Wonder why SEPTA didn’t have a Pennsylvania-based firm manage the fund? What’s the moral difference between going to Delaware for a fund manager or going to Delaware for a bottle of wine?

Something to think about.

Yuengling Sales Strong In Stormy Beer Sea

Yuengling Sales Strong In Stormy Beer Sea — D.G. Yuengling & Son is sailing strong in a stormy beer sea. While beer sales fell 2.2 percent last year, sales of Pottsville-based Yuengling  rose from 1,811 to 2,025 barrels or 11 percent.

Yuengling Sales Strong In Stormy Beer Sea

Volpe To Discuss Pittsburgh VA Matter

Investigative journalist Michael Volpe will discuss the strange case of Anna Chacko and the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Health System, 8 tonight on Blog Talk Radio which can be heard live or afterwards at

God Bless Rendell (for a change)

Ed Rendell has not been the most competent governor to lead our state but God bless him for the effort he put out to rescue those 54 orphans from Haiti and for persevering through the garbage thrown at him to get the job done.

Here’s a story about what the mission had to go through before a successful end.

Benefield’s Excellent Plan For Not Tolling I-80

The Big-Spenders-With-Our-Ransacked-Money (BSWORMs) who now run Pennsylvania are still scheming for  toll booths on I-80.

Nathan Benefield of the Commonwealth Foundation has come up with a list of alternatives  for finding the desperately needed dollars that the BSWORMs say must come from new government-caused traffic snarls.

Benefield’s suggestions are:

  • Repeal prevailing wage laws which mandate wages for government projects 40 percent higher, on average, than the private sector pays for the same work; and would free up hundred of millions, if not billions, for highway construction and repair.

  • Stop redirecting highway and bridge money to other purposes. 
  • Enable public-private partnerships, especially for new construction like express lanes, high occupancy lanes, new highways, new bridges etc.
  • Eliminate the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) –rolling the Turnpike Commission into PennDOT, would eliminate an unnecessary bureaucracy and offer substantial saving in transportation spending.

  • Privatize rest stops.

Excellent ideas all; and I would also point out that forbidding all government workers from striking — which would include SEPTA employees and public school teachers — would free up a lot of state money for highway projects since the state would not have to subsidize public schools and transportation to the degree it now does.

I would also point out that making the Pennsylvania Turnpike a freeway and replacing the revenue by hiking the gasoline tax (or by spending less) would be a net tax cut since we would no longer have to pay the people to snarl the traffic.