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Report On States’ Fiscal Health Puts Pennsylvania Near Bottom

(Photo illustration by Ed Fischer)

(Photo illustration by Ed Fischer)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new report on the fiscal condition of all 50 states rates Pennsylvania among the worst.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University looked at states’ ability to meet short and long-term obligations, and Pennsylvania, with few cash reserves and a big pending pension obligation, ranked 42.

Research director Eileen Norcross admits some of the best performing states — Alaska, North Dakota, Wyoming — have a special asset.

“They have the tax on petroleum” she says. “That is a very lucrative source of revenue right now for these states.”

Sharon Ward of the Budget and Policy Center says Pennsylvania, with its reserves of natural gas, might improve its position by following those states’ example.

“If you tax that industry appropriately,” she says, “you’ll be flush with cash.”

But Governor Corbett’s spokesman Jay Pagni disagrees.

“Pennsylvania receives revenue from the energy industry differently,” he says.

Pagni says the report underscores the need for pension reform.

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