Study: Pennsylvania Income Gap Grew During The Last Decade

Map of Pennsylvania

Map of Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HARRISBURG, PAPennsylvania‘s richest citizens pulled away from the state’s poorest during the go-go 1990s, and that trend continued as the bottom began to drop out of the economy, a new study concludes.

Between the late 1990s and early 2000s, the annual incomes of the richest fifth of state households grew by 7.2 percent, or $11,190, to $269,400 while the poorest fifth saw their average income fall nearly 8 percent, or $1,907, to $23,000.

Income inequality also grew between upper and middle-income families in the state. Middle-income families saw their earnings rise by just 1.9 percent between the late 1990s, compared to 7.2 percent for the richest fifth and 11.2 percent for the richest 5 percent of households, the study concluded.

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PPL Eyes New Round Of Energy Initiatives

Got an old fridge to get rid of? PPL Electric Utilities still will take it, pay you and recycle it.

Want new discount-price CFL bulbs?  PPL still will sell them to you.

Hope to get paid for trimming your air-conditioning use next summer?  Sorry, those days are gone.

PPL on Friday asked for state approval of its second generation of “E-power” energy-efficiency initiatives.

The 18 measures, subject to the state Public Utility Commission‘s action, are a mix of first-generation carryovers and newcomers.

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Arbitrators Slash Newer Reading Police Officers’ Pay, Benefits

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsyl...

A 1947 topographic map of the Reading, Pennsylvania area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

City police, especially those hired this year and in the future, will take major pay and benefit cuts now and when they retire, according to a five-year contract handed down Friday by a panel of arbitrators.

The panel froze officers’ salaries and step increases for three years and cut starting salaries, vacation time and sick leave in the new contract, which is retroactive to January 2012.

In setting the terms, the panel followed the city’s Act 47 financial recovery plan to cut millions of dollars a year from police costs.

For employees hired before the old contract expired at the end of 2011, the panel kept that contract’s pension benefits – up to 70 percent of working salaries, the ability to buy years of service to raise that pension, and city-paid retiree health insurance.

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Faculty At 14 State Schools, Including Kutztown University, Authorize Strike

Professors and faculty members have authorized their union leaders to call a strike, a move that would affect the education of 120,000 students at 14 state-run universities throughout Pennsylvania.

The Association of Pennsylvania State Colleges and University Faculties, the faculty union, said Friday that 95 percent of faculty who voted earlier in the week gave union leadership the option of calling a strike should talks with the State System of Higher Education break down.

The union and the state have been negotiating since July 2011, when the previous contract expired.

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Here is the list of universities:

Reading Health System Challenged On Merger

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Berks County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

State and federal authorities want to block Reading Health System’s acquisition of a competitor, a move they say would harm local consumers by reducing competition.

State Attorney General Linda Kelly and the Federal Trade Commission announced Friday that they will ask a federal judge on Monday for an injunction to stop the deal for Surgical Institute of Reading LP, Spring Township.

“The proposed acquisition would result in substantially higher prices for many kinds of medical procedures,” Kelly said in a statement.  “It would be bad not just for patients but also for employers in the Reading area.”

The FTC also has issued an administrative complaint, initiating a proceeding that will determine the legality of the deal.

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