ISSUE 115 | July 14, 2021
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From Around the Region and the State
Economic and Policy News
More public pension challenges could cost taxpayers
Investment returns in Pennsylvania’s public school pension fund have been inflated in legal reports.

As a result, school districts must raise contribution rates to accommodate the difference, and those rates are paid through property tax revenue.

The ‘defined benefit’ nature of public pensions (which the private sector abandoned in the 1980s, in recognition that they are not sustainable) contribute to these discrepancies. 

PA still struggling to support civil rights of the LGBTQ community 
Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state without civil rights protections for the LGBTQ community.

Relevant legislation has failed for the past two decades, with partisan politics as the apparent and primary stumbling blocks.

As of June 2021, however, two Republicans co-sponsored non-discrimination protections.  

PA lawmakers to address redistricting this fall 
With new Census data on the horizon, the state must redraw its political district maps.

Potential for gerrymandering districts to benefit one political party over another is of utmost concern, and leaders on both sides of the aisle are jockeying for position.

To preserve democracy, citizens must continue to remind legislators about the importance of transparency, fairness, and accountability in this process. 

From Around the Nation and the Globe
Economic and Policy News
Many states planning to pass unprepared third graders
The debate over retaining or intervening with third graders who fail to meet literacy levels amid COVID-19 is at the forefront of K-12 education concerns.

Some state officials assert that struggling students may move to the next grade level as long as there is strong intervention to help them succeed.

Other leaders want to retain students despite the obvious racial equity issues that could manifest as a result. 

Oahu policymakers introducing vouchers to keep people housed
Policymakers in Oahu are attempting to reduce or prevent homelessness upon expiration of the eviction moratorium.

Funding in the form of vouchers for use in market rate housing will provide landlords with payment to satisfy rent, utilities, and damages.

There has also been discussion of paying landlords for 13 months on each 12-month lease.  

Public transit systems aiming for equitable service provision
Major cities are evaluating public transit fares and tying them to income levels.

Critics worry about subsequent loss of revenue, as well as the risk of creating havens for homelessness or unruly behavior.

Nonetheless, there is recognition that the current system is inequitable and unsustainable, and that public transit issues should be approached from different perspectives. 

Research Spotlight: Since the pandemic's onset, The Institute has been documenting and evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on various sectors throughout the region.

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