Pennsylvania Politics and Policy

A Commonwealth Reader
Volume 1

Edited by J. Wesley Leckrone and Michelle J. Atherton
Book Cover

PB: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1670-4
Publication: Jun 18

Ebook: $29.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-1671-1
Publication: Jun 18

214 pages
6 x 9
15 tables, 15 line drawings, 5 halftones

An evidence-based exploration of the most important issues in Pennsylvania politics and policy today

Read the Preface (pdf).


The activities of state governments have always been important in the American federal system. However, recent partisan gridlock in Washington, DC has placed states at the forefront of policymaking as the national government maintains the status quo. Pennsylvania Politics and Policy, Volume 1 is designed to showcase current issues of interest to Pennsylvanians. This reader contains updated chapters from recent issues of Commonwealth: A Journal of Pennsylvania Politics and Policy on education, health care, public finance, tax policy, environmental policy, alcohol policy and more. Each chapter is supplemented by forums with arguments in support of or opposed to contested elements of state policy, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading.

In addition, Pennsylvania Politics and Policy, Volume 1 includes a comprehensive guide to researching state government and policy online. It is designed as a text or supplement for college or advanced high school classes in American government, state and local politics, public policy, and public administration.

Contributors include: David G. Argall, Tom Baldino, Michele Deegan, Michael Dimino, William A. Fischel, George Hale, Rachel L. Hampton , Paula Duda Holoviak Jon Hopcraft, Vera Krekanova, Maureen W. McClure, Barry G. Rabe, Marguerite Roza, Lanethea Mathews Shultz, Jennie Sweet-Cushman, Amanda Warco, and the editors.


“Pennsylvania Politics and Policy is a tremendous contribution to the literature on politics in the Keystone State and a wonderful resource for courses on state and local government in general. The articles explore an array of salient policy issues through rigorous scholarship, providing valuable insight and context regarding contemporary governance debates in Pennsylvania. The volume effectively integrates examinations of structural and institutional challenges in the Commonwealth with well-developed explorations of policy areas that are at the forefront of state politics in Pennsylvania and beyond.”—Chris Borick, Muhlenberg College Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion

“More political science and public policy students are gravitating towards state and local issues. They sense they can have greater impact in their careers closer to home rather than in Washington, D.C. This reader is full of policy and political challenges offering substance for solid exercises for discussion, study and analysis of state and local issues. While Pennsylvania is the reader’s arena, its application to the state and local domain is universal. A copious resource…put it to work for your students!”
Rick Stafford, Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy, H. John Heinz III College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: The Legislative Process
The Rules of the Game: The Constitution and the Lawmaking Process Michael Dimino, Sr.
Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Should Pennsylvania Adopt Direct Democracy?
For More Information

Chapter 2: Gubernatorial Power
Governor Wolf’s First Year: A Comparative Analysis Paula Duda Holoviak and Tom Baldino Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Do Business People Make Good Chief Executives?
For More Information

Chapter 3: Tax Policy
Commonwealth Forum: Should Pennsylvania Abolish the Property Tax for Schools?
Yes, Abolish the Property Tax: It is the Worst Tax for Schools David G. Argall and Jon Hopcraft
No, Keep the Property Tax: It Is the Best Tax for Schools William A. Fischel
Discussion Questions

Chapter 4: Energy Policy
Leaving Money on the Table: Pennsylvania Exceptionalism in Resisting Energy Severance Taxes Rachel L. Hampton and Barry G. Rabe
Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Should Government Subsidize Economic Development of Natural Gas Facilities?
For More Information

Chapter 5: Education Policy
What Would Student-Based Allocation Mean for Pennsylvania Districts? Marguerite Roza and Amanda Warco
Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Should Pennsylvania Eliminate Hold Harmless School Funding?
For More Information

Chapter 6: Demographics and Public Policy
More Trouble Ahead for Public School Finance: The Implications of Generational Change in Pennsylvania Maureen W. McClure and Vera Krekanova
Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Should Pennsylvania Tax Retirement Income?
For More Information

Chapter 7: Health Care Policy
The Limits of Medicaid Reform in Pennsylvania: Thinking Regionally about Access to Insurance and Health Care Under the Affordable Care Act Michele Deegan and Lanethea Mathews Schultz
Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Should Pennsylvania Fund Rural Health Care?
For More Information

Chapter 8: Alcohol Policy
The Issue that Will Not Go Away: Models of Public Policy Making and Four Decades of Republican Efforts to Privatize Pennsylvania’s State Liquor Monopoly George Hale
Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Should Pennsylvania Rely on Sin Taxes for Revenue?
For More Information

Chapter 9: Social Policy
FMLA in Pennsylvania: Analysis of Family and Medical Leave Policy in the State Jennie Sweet-Cushman
Discussion Questions
Commonwealth Forum: Would Mandated Paid Leave Create a Competitive Disadvantage for Pennsylvania Businesses?
For More Information

Chapter 10: Researching Pennsylvania Online Michelle J. Atherton and J. Wesley Leckrone


About the Author(s)

J. Wesley Leckrone is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Widener University and Editor of Commonwealth: A Journal of Pennsylvania Politics and Policy.

Michelle J. Atherton is Associate Director of the Institute for Public Affairs at Temple University. She is Managing Editor of Commonwealth: A Journal of Pennsylvania Politics and Policy.