Pennsylvania Tax Burden Ranks 10th Nationally

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvanians’ state and local tax burden reached its lowest point in more than a decade in 2011, but it still climbed to rank as the nation’s 10th most onerous, up two spots from the year before, an analysis released this week shows.

The Washington-based Tax Foundation said Pennsylvanians shelled out $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes in 2011, or 10.3 percent of their per-capita income of $42,268. About 10.5 percent of income went toward state and local taxes in 2010, the foundation said.

“This trend was largely driven by the growth of income,” said Tax Foundation economist Liz Malm, explaining the slight decline.

About 27 percent of Pennsylvanians’ tax money went to other states. Aside from sales, excise, income, corporate and other taxes paid in other states, the Tax Foundation factors what it calls tax exporting.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5882443-74/tax-state-taxes#ixzz2y3z5waOg
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Amtrak Boss Stresses Higher Speeds On Northeast Corridor

Map of the Northeast Corridor, traced on USGS ...

Map of the Northeast Corridor, traced on USGS topos. Legend: Red – Amtrak ownership Blue – NEC commuter services and NEC commuter rail agency ownership Black – off-NEC Amtrak lines not owned by Amtrak Green – stations on the NEC (Amtrak only) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON – Amtrak’s planned new Acela Express trains will carry more passengers and be more reliable than the current ones, even if they won’t travel much faster, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman said Thursday.

Amtrak is seeking proposals, with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, for new high-speed trains that can run at 220 miles an hour on the West Coast and 160 miles an hour on the Northeast Corridor.

Proposals from train-builders are due by May 17. A builder will be selected by the end of the year, Boardman said.

The first of the new Acela trains are supposed to be in service between Washington and Boston by 2018.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20140328_Amtrak_boss_stresses_higher_speeds_on_Northeast_Corridor.html#v1btxHH7FQXZeq6R.99

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Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Airport Gets Funds To Aid In Attracting Carriers

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metro...

Locator map of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area in the northeastern part of the of . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PITTSTON TWP. — For the second time in 11 years, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport is the recipient of a federal grant to entice airlines to offer new destinations or to increase the number of flights to current destinations.

The $575,000 federal Small Community Air Service Development grant will be used to encourage airlines to add flights to business and leisure destinations that are among the most requested by passengers.

Airport Director Barry J. Centini said that on the leisure side, he will look to add Myrtle Beach, S.C., Tampa Bay and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as destinations. For business travelers, Pittsburgh and Washington are the targets.

Those destinations seem to be the ones many customers request or wind up taking connecting flights to get to when they embark from the local airport. He said the funds also could be used to entice airlines already operating out of Avoca to add additional flights to current destinations such as Atlanta.

Read more: http://timesleader.com/news/local-news/1208151/Airport-gets-funds-to-aid-in-attracting-carriers

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Wealth Gap Is Widest In Some Affluent US Cities

WASHINGTON (AP) – The gap between the wealthy and the poor is most extreme in several of the United States’ most prosperous and largest cities.

The economic divides in Atlanta, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are significantly greater than the national average, according to a study released Thursday by the Brookings Institution, the Washington-based think tank. It suggests that many sources of both economic growth and income inequality have co-existed near each other for the past 35 years.

These cities may struggle in the future to provide adequate public schooling, basic municipal services because of a narrow tax base and “may fail to produce housing and neighborhoods accessible to middle-class workers and families,” the study said.

“There’s something of a relationship between economic success and inequality,” said Alan Berube, a senior fellow at Brookings. “These cities are home to some of the highest paying industries and jobs in the country.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/homepage/20140220_ap_9abeed9da7e24c51a0a078a9ca8c73b9.html#fRdwGmPM2m6ZEQji.99

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Comcast Could Buy Time Warner N.Y. Cable Franchises

Logo of Comcast Latina: Insigne Comcast

Logo of Comcast Latina: Insigne Comcast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Comcast Corp. could acquire Time Warner Cable Co.’s New York cable-TV properties, along with other franchises on the East Coast, in a deal with Charter Communications Inc., according to sources in the industry.

A deal would expand Comcast’s market power along the I-95 corridor between Boston and Washington.

Comcast, the nation’s largest cable-TV company, already offers cable and Internet in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington.

Charter declined to comment Monday. Comcast also had no comment.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20140128_Industry_sources__Comcast_could_acquire_Time_Warner_Cable_N_Y__franchises.html#HAyimeAaYY2LBdix.99

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Pennsylvania Ranks 4th In Black Homicide Victims, Latest Stats Show

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PENNSYLVANIA ranked fourth nationwide in black homicide victimization in 2011, according to an organization that ranked the state second in the previous year.

The Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center, which released the new study Thursday, said the latest figures show that Pennsylvania had 29.02 homicides per 100,000 black civilians in 2011.

A study released by the same nonprofit group last year ranked Pennsylvania second in 2010. The state was ranked third in 2009.

In 2011 — the latest year for which FBI statistics are available — blacks accounted for half of all homicide victims nationwide, yet represented 13 percent of the U.S. population.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Pa_ranks_4th_in_black_homicide_victims_latest_stats_show.html#SIwjH48fKP1kXpBA.99

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With Gerlach Leaving, The Scramble For Candidates Has Already Begun

English: , member of the United States House o...

English: , member of the United States House of Representatives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The scramble to become a candidate for U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach‘s seat has already begun and the battle for the post will be a national spectacle, political watchers said Monday.

The Chester County Republican announced Monday that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.

And while Gerlach said he mainly made the decision to spend more time with his family, he acknowledged that frustration with Washington had to play a role.

“I just get the sense that he was very unhappy with the situation, the gridlock, the partisanship, the inability to get much done,” said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster. “Many (politicians) have reached a point where many don’t want to go through this anymore.”

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article/20140107/NEWS/301079935/1052#.UsxmIfRDsxI

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Post Office Reports Loss Of $5 Billion For Year

USPS service delivery truck in a residential a...

USPS service delivery truck in a residential area of San Francisco, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The U.S. Postal Service said Friday it lost $5 billion over the past year, and postal officials again urged Congress to pass legislation to help the beleaguered agency solve its financial woes.

In a positive sign, the loss was a fraction of the record $15.9 billion the Postal Service reported losing last year. But it was still the agency’s seventh straight annual loss and came despite its first growth in revenue since 2008.

Operating revenue rose 1.2 percent to $66 billion, thanks to growth in the post office’s package delivery business and higher volume in standard mail. That was not enough to offset long-term losses in first class mail – the post office’s most profitable service – where revenues declined by 2.4 percent.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20131115_ap_bec035dfa75648f5a1f03a745ca1eb46.html#OcVHlq2UB7XQFb1U.99

Crisis Averted, Obama Says Americans ‘Completely Fed Up’ With Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama scolded congressional Republicans on Thursday, hours after a fiscal crisis was narrowly averted and called on his opponents to help repair the economic damage caused by a 16-day U.S. government shutdown and a close brush with a debt default.

Obama stressed that he is willing to work with lawmakers wherever they can agree, but the tone he struck amounted to a rebuke of Republicans, whom Americans largely blame for pushing the United States to the brink of an economic calamity.

“The American people are completely fed up with Washington,” said Obama in a White House speech attended by many of the aides who worked day and night through the various stages of the latest fiscal stalemate.

“The American people are completely fed up with Washington,” said Obama in a White House speech attended by many of the aides who worked day and night through the various stages of the latest fiscal stalemate.

Read more: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/sns-rt-us-usa-fiscal-obama-20130915,0,5894864.story#ixzz2i0gCYjlb
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Christie: ‘If I Was In The Senate Right Now, I’d Kill Myself’

English: , U.S. Attorney, Governor-elect of Ne...

English: , U.S. Attorney, Governor-elect of New Jersey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gov. Christie today blamed Republicans and Democrats for the government shutdown, saying “it’s irresponsible of both sides to have allowed this to get where it’s gotten.”

Asked during an editorial board meeting with The Philadelphia Inquirer what he would do if he were in the Senate right now, his immediate response was this: “If I was in the Senate right now, I’d kill myself.”

“This is why I’ve never had any interest in being in a legislative body,” he said. (It should be noted: In the 1990s Christie was a county freeholder, which is a legislator.)

He sees the situation in Washington as a failure in leadership, and a failure to achieve compromise.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/christie_chronicles/Christie-If-I-was-in-the-Senate-right-now-Id-kill-myself.html#SCuoK6yZzyy8AhU4.99

Obama Open To Name Change For Washington Redskins

Former alternate logo for the Washington Redskins

Former alternate logo for the Washington Redskins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama says that if he owned the Washington Redskins, he would “think about changing” the team name, wading into the controversy over a football nickname that many people deem offensive to Native Americans.

Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names like the Redskins offend “a sizable group of people.” He said that while fans get attached to the nicknames, nostalgia may not be a good enough reason to keep them in place.

“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday.

An avid sports fan, Obama said he doesn’t think Washington football fans are purposely trying to offend American Indians. “I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so,” he said.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/20131005_ap_4e545769cf7a41c68fafb55ada61635a.html#3fxVXG08vkDzcLA3.99

Half Of U.S. Seniors One ‘Shock’ Away From Poverty, Report Warns

NEW YORK  (TheStreet) — Are U.S. seniors “truly vulnerable” to spending their retirement in poverty?

That thought, almost unthinkable almost 15 years ago, is inching closer to reality, says a study from the Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute.

Older African-Americans (63%) and Hispanics (70%) are especially vulnerable to spending their golden years in economic peril, the study says, with 48% of all U.S. seniors, or about 19.9 million Americans, “one bad economic shock away” from falling off a financial cliff after age 65 — a fall from which they may not recover.

Read more: http://business-news.thestreet.com/philly/story/half-of-us-seniors-one-shock-away-from-poverty-report-warns/11947636

IRS Chief Tells Lawmakers: ‘We Will Uncover Everything’

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Ser...

Seal of the United States Internal Revenue Service. The design is the same as the Treasury seal with an IRS inscription. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — The new head of the Internal Revenue Service acknowledged that the embattled agency “undermined the public’s trust” when employees singled out conservative political groups seeking tax-exempt status for extra scrutiny, and he pledged full cooperation with lawmakers in pursuing reforms.

In his first public testimony since taking over at the IRS in mid-May, acting Commissioner Daniel Werfel called actions by employees “completely inexcusable and inherently damaging” to the agency, blaming what he called “a fundamental failure by IRS management” to prevent it.  He said he would hold accountable any employees responsible for misdeeds, promising at one point, “We will uncover everything.”

“This important agency is founded on a principle of operating impartially.  And we failed in that most basic core principle here, and it’s devastating to us as an agency and to the people in that agency,” he said.

Previous IRS officials who have testified gave much less definitive answers to such questions.  Werfel has the advantage of having not been at the agency when the problems occurred.  As a result, the tenor of Monday’s hearing contrasted with other sessions in which members often sparred with invited witnesses.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/la-na-irs-hearings-20130604,0,3733316.story

Public Wants More Transit Funding, Officials Say

SEPTA logo with text

SEPTA logo with text (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Amid state and federal wrangling over transportation funding, transit leaders meeting in Center City said growing public support should mean more money for trains, buses, and subways.

“The people of the nation are way ahead of some of their elected leaders,” Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said Monday, citing a new survey for the American Public Transportation Association that showed 74 percent of respondents supported using tax dollars to “create, expand and improve public transportation.”  That was up from 69 percent last year.

In Washington and Harrisburg, lawmakers are debating how to pay for mass transit as well as highways and bridges.  Transit agencies, which typically get at least half of their budgets from taxpayers, are lobbying for increases to replace outdated equipment and vehicles and to bring derelict systems into a state of good repair.

A vote is expected this week in the Pennsylvania state Senate on a transportation-funding bill that would increase the gas tax on wholesalers (who likely would pass it on to motorists at the pump), and raise most vehicle fees and fines for traffic violations.  The measure would produce about $2.5 billion in additional transportation funding after three years, according to its sponsor, Senate transportation chairman John Rafferty (R., Montgomery).

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/transportation/20130604_Public_wants_more_transit_funding__officials_contend.html#Ygr2fvsOhvgMWo0W.99

Postal Service Is On Its Last Legs, With Little Help In Sight

English: U.S. Post Office Lincoln Branch in Ma...

English: U.S. Post Office Lincoln Branch in Madison Township near Mansfield, Ohio. This United States Postal Service branch closed its doors at 4:30 p.m. on Friday February 11, 2011 due to the fiscal crisis that the United States Postal Service is in as of 2010-2011 and the drastic decline in mail volume. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON — With a wide grin and a quick step, letter carrier Kenny Clark brings more than the day’s mail to the people on his route in suburban Maryland.

Clark, 49, greets nearly everyone he sees by name. He puts packages under eaves on overcast days to keep them dry, reminds people to retrieve keys they might have left in keyholes, and shouts a quick “You OK?” at the doors of seniors.

“He’s a neighborhood icon — him and his truck,” said Amy Dick, who lives on Clark’s route.

But his future, and that of the U.S. Postal Service, is in doubt. The Postal Service lost $1.9 billion between January and March, and $15.9 billion last year. The 238-year-old institution loses $25 million each day, and has reached its borrowing limit with the federal Treasury. Daily mail delivery could be threatened within a year, officials say.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/nationworld/la-na-postal-service-20130528,0,4812985.story

Philly To NYC In 40 Minutes?

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empir...

English: Map of Northeast, Keystone, and Empire corridors, federally designated high-speed rail corridors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Obama administration will weigh 15 alternatives for improved passenger rail service between Boston and Washington, ranging from modest upgrades to a new high-speed Northeast Corridor that would allow trips between Philadelphia and New York City in about 40 minutes.

The 15 “preliminary alternatives” were unveiled Tuesday by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The FRA plans to come up with a single “preferred alternative” by mid-2015, complete with cost estimates and possible construction schedules.

The goal is to lay out a feasible plan for investing in the nation’s busiest rail corridor through 2040, with proposals for updated equipment, more trains, new stations and possible new routes.

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20130402_Various_visions_for_Northeast_Corridor.html#ixzz2PLaQhVws 
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House Republicans Balk At Deal; Fiscal Cliff Coming

WASHINGTON — Last-minute efforts to step back from the “fiscal cliff” ran into trouble on Tuesday as Republicans in the House of Representatives balked at a deal that would prevent Washington from pushing the world’s biggest economy into a recession.

House Republicans complained that a bill passed by the Senate in a late-night show of unity to prevent a budget crisis contained tax hikes for the wealthiest Americans but no spending cuts.  Some conservatives sought to change the bill to add cuts.

That would set up a high-stakes showdown between the two chambers and risk a stinging rebuke from financial markets that are due to open in Asia in a few hours.

Read more:  http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-fiscal-cliff-reuters-20130101,0,6257078.story

Senate Approves “Fiscal Cliff” Deal, Crisis Eased

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate moved the U.S. economy back from the edge of a “fiscal cliff” on Tuesday, voting to avoid imminent tax hikes and spending cuts in a bipartisan deal that could still face stiff challenges in the House of Representatives.

In a rare New Year’s session at around 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT), senators voted 89-8 to raise some taxes on the wealthy while making permanent low tax rates on the middle class that have been in place for a decade.

But the measure did little to rein in huge annual budget deficits that have helped push the U.S. debt to $16.4 trillion.

The agreement came too late for Congress to meet its own deadline of New Year’s Eve for passing laws to halt $600 billion in tax hikes and spending cuts which strictly speaking came into force on Tuesday.

Read more:  http://www.nbr.com/news/story?id=tag%3Areuters.com%2C0000%3Anewsml_BRE8A80WV#.UOMJA-TAdcz

Americans Will Feel Paycheck Pinch As Payroll Tax Break Ends In January

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama isn’t talking about it and neither is Mitt Romney. But come January, 163 million workers can expect to feel the pinch of a big tax increase regardless of who wins the election.

A temporary reduction in Social Security payroll taxes is due to expire at the end of the year and hardly anyone in Washington is pushing to extend it. Neither Obama nor Romney has proposed an extension, and it probably wouldn’t get through Congress anyway, with lawmakers in both parties down on the idea.

Even Republicans who have sworn off tax increases have little appetite to prevent one that will cost a typical worker about $1,000 a year, and two-earner family with six-figure incomes as much as $4,500.

Why are so many politicians sour on continuing the payroll tax break?

Read more: http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/10/social_security_tax.html