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Ten Random PA Policy Points

'By way of experimentation, here are 10 totally unrelated facts about issues we deal with in Pennsylvania government. Let’s see what happens…'

Often times when debating or discussing politics and policy, facts are tossed aside in favor of more emotional arguments.

Even worse, when one side of a legitimate but spirited debate falters, it has somehow become acceptable to either refuse to accept the facts as accurate.

Others strive to find flaws in an effort to have two wrongs make a right. By way of experimentation, here are 10 totally unrelated facts about issues we deal with in Pennsylvania government. Let’s see what happens…

1. Each year, domestic violence programs in Pennsylvania provide services to approximately 95,000 victims while one in four women and one in nine men will experience domestic violence in her or his lifetime. However, less than 20 percent of victims who report an injury from intimate partner violence seek medical treatment. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

2. PathwaysPA recently reported that access to good jobs, not just any job, may hold the key to self-sufficiency. In the state, one in four households live below a recognized measure of self-sufficiency, up from one in five in 2007. Almost four out of five households below the Self-Sufficiency Standard have at least one worker, and 73 percent of those households have a full-time worker. 

3. A new GAO report found that shale gas production in the US has increased more than fourfold, from about 1.6 trillion cubic feet in 2007 to about 7.2 trillion cubic feet in 2011. During this period, about 20 trillion cubic feet of shale gas was produced, representing 300 days of US consumption. Marcellus Shale was the fourth ranked play with 11 percent of total gas produced.

4. Pennsylvania’s coal industry is responsible for 41,500 mine-related jobs and contributes over $7 billion annually to the state’s economy. Coal accounted for 44 percent of Pennsylvania’s electric generation last year. The Pittsburgh region exported 42 percent of the entire US’s coal in 2011, up from 39 percent in 2010.

5. A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that only 26 percent of large firms (200 employees or more) offered retirees health insurance in 2011, down from 66 percent in 1988. During this 23-year period, total funds spent on health care skyrocketed from $582 billion to $2.59 trillion in the US.

6. According to the US Social Security Administration, 36 percent of Social Security recipients are children, the disabled, or spouses and survivors of workers. About one in every six people currently receives a Social Security benefit.

7. Pennsylvania currently has 200 inmates on death row, including 39 who have been there since the 1980s. Among the 34 states with an active death penalty, PA ranks 32nd in the number of executions.

8. In just less than 30 years, the number of state wineries has increased from 27 to 123 and the gallons of wine produced from 254,724 to 971,191. Nationally, PA ranks 7th in wine production  and 4th in the amount of grapes grown (including juice grapes) with approximately 14,000 acres of grapes.

9. If Pennsylvania's Autism Insurance Coverage Law was fully implemented, it would save more than $25 million a year compared to the $5 million in projected savings under DPW’s new policy that will collect co-payments from families earning 200 percent of the federal poverty guideline for the services their disabled children receive. Up to 5 percent of a family's household income may be collected.

10. Over the past 20 years, more than 80 percent of the capital gains income realized in the US has gone to 5 percent of the people; about half of all the capital gains have gone to the wealthiest 0.1 percent. Capital gains includes profits from the sale of stocks, bonds and real estate.

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