The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has weathered several years of budgetary stress and continues to face near-term difficulty balancing the yearly budget. Pressures in the form of lower-than-projected revenues, increasing programmatic costs, and demographic changes have been building for many years. Pennsylvania’s financials are weak on a short-term and on a long-term basis, partially owing to policy and fiscal choices over the years, and partially because of the wider economy.
In our examination of occupational licensing of two low-income occupations, licensing increases the earnings of professionals without providing a measurable benefit to consumers. For many occupations not currently regulated in states, occupational licensing may not serve as an ideal means of protecting consumers. For newly regulated occupations, certification may serve as a lower cost option for providing consumers the necessary protection from incompetent or unscrupulous professionals.
The objections raised in pension reform discussions that cite transition costs as a financial barrier to closing existing defined benefit plans are rooted in incomplete analysis and in accounting assumptions that have contributed to plans’ growing unfunded liabilities.
Elected officials around the country are considering reforms to public employee retirement plans—and with good reason. The costs of these plans have risen significantly in recent years and the increasing risk of pension investments threaten to destabilize government budgets. Many reform options are available and policymakers should consider how much cost and risk taxpayers are willing and able to bear.
My objective this morning is to assist you in understanding the tradeoffs that are involved in any pension reform decision so that you can make the best choice for the commonwealth, in view of the fact that the current unfunded liability of PSERS and SERS is a staggering $135,000 per active member.
To date, the Kansas legislature has barred the governor from expanding Medicaid. To reverse this action, the legislature would need an affirmative vote to proceed with the expansion. This testimony will lay out four reasons why it would be unwise for Kansas to expand Medicaid.
New Hampshire’s CON program may have been initially intended to control costs and increase care for the poor, recent research has demonstrated that these goals have never been achieved through CON regulations. There is little evidence to support the claim that certificates of need are an effective cost-control measure, and Stratmann and Russ have found that these programs have no effect on the level of charity care provided to the poor. While controlling health care costs and increasing care for the poor may laudable public policy goals, the evidence is strong that CON regulations are not an effective tool for doing so. Instead, these programs simply decrease the supply and availability of health care services by limiting entry and competition.
Maybe a regulatory reform bill that wanted to ensure that the best possible analysis was supplied to the IRRC would address the incentives of those specialists. Instead of rewarding them for being part of an agency that created more regulations, reward them for producing high quality analyses.
Based on observations from my time serving on streamlining commissions in Louisiana and Virginia, I would advise that this challenge would be best met by appointing an advisory board. This advisory board would be heavily dominated by private sector experts whose skills relate to the subjects under consideration. This advisory board should also have representation from both chambers of the legislature, but that representation should be a minority of the whole advisory board.
As the Montana legislature considers how to improve the funding status of its defined benefit plans, it is important that any changes to the pension system be based on an accurate accounting of the value of the benefits due to employees.
As the world’s first decentralized digital currency, Bitcoin has the potential to revolutionize online payment systems and commerce in ways that benefit both consumers and businesses. Individuals can now avoid using an intermediary such as PayPal or submitting credit card information to a third party for verification—both of which often involve transaction fees, restrictions, and security risks—and instead use bitcoins to pay each other directly for goods or services.