Pennsylvania Used as Example of Massive Public Job Losses Under Republican Control
While many panelists at this weekend’s Pennsylvania Leadership Conference complained about the Pennsylvania government being too big, a new study shows Pennsylvania may be the poster-child for a stagnant unemployment rate due to state level cuts under Republican leadership.
Bryce Covert and Mike Konczai illustrate a painfully obvious point in The Nation regarding the Commonwealth’s cutting of public jobs and enacting partisan social legislation. And while Pennsylvania may be the most obvious example used by the authors, we’re one of many states undergoing a conservative transformation to the dark side.
Republican state legislators, empowered by new control of the governorship and the state house, proposed one of the most stringent mandatory ultrasound bills in the country. The House passed a voter identification law that could block 700,000 Pennsylvanians from voting, most of them young, of color, and poor. Meanwhile, the same state legislators led a successful charge to shrink public employment. The number of government employees fell over 3 percent that year, one of the sharpest declines in any state.
The piece goes onto to explain that “Pennsylvania isn’t alone.” In fact, as we’re all likely aware, 2010 was a blood red electoral year, and happened because those Republicans promised massive job growth if they only got the chance to rule over us. Lots of swing and oft-blue states went red. The result: the economic and social equivalent of a tire iron to the face. In those 11 states where Republicans have taken control since January 2011, “public sector layoffs are disproportionately concentrated, leading to one of the biggest rounds of job losses for the public workforce since record keeping began.” And with that has come a massive increase in conservative bills meant to limit voting by minorities and the poor, and limiting abortion rights.
In 2011, Pennsylvania state and local employment by the state legislature dropped by more than 3 percent, according to the article. Corbett’s lowering of the corporate tax rate and imposition of a low effective tax rate on drilling the Marcellus Shale have “made the deficit even worse.”
“There could have been fewer layoffs than there were,” said Mark Price, an economist based in Pennsylvania. “They could have avoided this.” As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has found, many of these newly GOP-dominated states, including North Carolina, cut corporate taxes, or cut taxes on high-income earners, including Maine and Ohio. Wisconsin did both.
As we’ve noted before, conservatives often don’t take these stats as a bad thing. They want government to shrink. And the government is made up of people. George Will noted back in November, when the economy showed an increase in private sector jobs but a decrease in the public sector: “that’s good.” Think Progress took this sentiment further, explaining, “conservatives rejoice at public sector job loss because they think it will spur private job creation (and also fulfill their collective fantasy of controlling the ever encroaching tentacles of the federal government). But the reality is that public sector losses are equaling out private sector gains and thus holding back a wider recovery.”
Check out the whole thing here. There are charts. You love charts.
(h/t Keystone Politics)