PA Must Reads: Homelessness in Shale Country, Higher Education Cuts and the Federal Budget

A blog post by Mark Price, originally published at Third and State.

NPR this morning broadcast a WPSU story about the rise in homelessness in Tioga County. The story provides a nice reminder that increased economic activity is often associated with rising demands on the social safety net.

In case you missed it on Monday, The Philadelphia Inquirer explored the impact of cuts in state funding for higher education.

In an interview, Tim Eller, spokesman for the state Education Department, was asked whether money for higher education would continue to dwindle or even potentially end.

“I don’t want to take that leap just yet,” he said. “It all depends on the economy and the revenues coming in to the state treasury. The governor just feels at this time we have to live within our means without asking taxpayers to pay more.”

The cuts, however, ensure that some taxpayers — students and their families — will definitely pay more…

In Pennsylvania, particularly, families have a point. The Delta Cost Project found that at Pennsylvania public research colleges, student tuition accounted for 70 percent of the cost of education, compared with 52 percent nationally, and that similar disparities existed at other types of public schools.

The White House unveiled its 2013 Budget proposal Monday. Of note are commitments to new infrastructure spending and support for community colleges.

Transportation spending would rise a total of $476 billion over six years. Gasoline tax revenues will cover more than half of that commitment.

The president seeks to jump-start re-employment by investing $50 billion in infrastructure projects, continuing to allow tax write-offs for new business investments, investing $30 billion in school modernization projects, providing $30 billion for communities to hire teachers and first-responders and offering tax cuts for businesses that increase their payrolls.

President Barack Obama called on Congress Monday to create an $8 billion fund to train community college students for high-growth industries, part of his broader pitch to make higher education more affordable for all Americans…

The White House says the “Community College to Career Fund” would train 2 million workers in sectors like health care, transportation and advanced manufacturing.

A key component of the community college plan would institute “pay for performance” in job training, meaning there would be financial incentives to ensure that trainees find permanent jobs — particularly for programs that place individuals facing the greatest hurdles getting work. It also would promote training of entrepreneurs, provide grants for state and local government to recruit companies, and support paid internships for low-income community college students.