Saturday, April 02, 2005

Prosperity report, given big air at QED, draws scorn

See the comments section for the press release from another outlet.

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

April 1, 2005 717-730-4380 x3010 (office)

717-649-6522 (cell)


Brookings’ report advocates restricted housing choices to force people back to cities,

PA Prosperity Coalition report supports housing of choice and market-based decisions

LEMOYNE, Pa. – James L. Conner, president of the Pennsylvania Builders Association, speaking on behalf of the PA Prosperity Coalition, issued the following statement today:

“Bruce Katz, with the Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy, and Kate Philips, with the Governor’s Office, have been quoted in news articles commenting about how our Forward to Prosperity report and their Back to Prosperity report are similar in the problems they identify and the solutions they propose. We strongly disagree.

“Let me start by saying we have the utmost respect for the Brookings Institution and Governor Rendell. But I can assure you that the six concerned business groups that came together to support and promote our new report would never have expended the time and energy needed to do so unless we had major differences of opinion with the Brookings study. The large amount of effort we’ve put into this project reflects the seriousness of our disagreement with information in the Back to Prosperity report.

“Perhaps their comments are intended to diffuse the controversy our report has created in the hope that press and public interest in our Forward to Prosperity report will diminish. But our coalition partners have worked far too hard – and they believe too strongly in the correctness of our report findings – for us to back away from this issue. That is why we are jointly making this statement today to reinforce three main points.

“First, the different visions for Pennsylvania that both reports propose are diametrically opposed. That fact is mirrored in their titles. Theirs is called Back to Prosperity, and it’s trying to turn back the clock. It recommends using government planners to force people back to our towns and cities in an attempt to rebuild those urban economies. We just don’t think that will work, and, according to our research, neither do Pennsylvanians. Our report, on the other hand, is titled Forward to Prosperity, and with good reason. Instead of trying to reclaim past glory days, we’re advocating policies harnessing market forces to give our state economic vitality surpassing anything we’ve ever experienced in the past. Pennsylvanians told us during our research surveys that they want to make their own housing choices, and our report reflects that reality.

“Second, our Forward to Prosperity report raises many serious concerns with the data and research conclusions in the Brookings Back to Prosperity report. We think it contains mistakes and provides misguided recommendations. In fact, nearly the entire second chapter of our report is dedicated to a discussion of the information we believe that Brookings got wrong. We remain convinced that public policies based on the Brookings report will be doomed to failure and could waste millions of taxpayer dollars.

“Third, while a few components of both reports’ recommendations are similar, these two documents are distinguished by the major differences in their recommendations. Because of its unproven thesis that sprawl has been a leading economic drag in Pennsylvania, many of Brookings’ recommendations focus narrowly on land-use planning issues and reinvestment in urban areas. Our report, in comparison, has nine recommendations for improving Pennsylvania’s economy that point to the critical roles played by a number of broad factors – business taxes and regulation, school performance, infrastructure planning, state agency policy coordination, open space investments, workforce housing and, yes, regional land-use planning and zoning concerns.

“Thanks to the power of the Internet, people don’t have to accept our interpretation of these two important documents. Our report is available at and the Brookings report is available at We encourage the press and the public to read both reports because we have complete confidence in our research findings. Not only is our research more credible, it’s based in great part on discussions with Pennsylvanians – the very citizens who lives will be impacted by these critical decisions.”

About the PA Prosperity Coalition

The PA Prosperity Coalition is a partnership of six community minded business organizations that have helped support and promote a new research report identifying some of the main factors hindering economic growth in Pennsylvania.

The Forward to Prosperity report was stimulated by an earlier study produced by the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy that concerned coalition members because of perceived shortcomings in its research methods and policy recommendations.

The members of the PA Prosperity Coalition are: the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association, the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®, the Pennsylvania Builders Association and the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association. Other interested organizations are being invited to join the coalition and help bring public attention to the solid policy recommendations made in the group’s report.

The information in the 45-page Forward to Prosperity report is based on a scholarly review of the research literature, as well as original research including a statewide, random sample survey of 814 Pennsylvanians and six focus groups conducted with Pennsylvania business, government and community leaders. The research was led by Michael Young, Ph.D., managing partner of Michael Young Strategic Research, which is well known in Pennsylvania for the quality of its research work.

The report provides nine concrete recommendations for government leaders to follow in restoring the Commonwealth’s economic vitality:

Reduce Pennsylvania’s onerous business taxes

Improve coordination among state and local agencies

Enact needed business regulatory reforms

Reverse the trend of low-quality city schools

Establish effective regional land-use planning

Fight sprawl with high-density, mixed-use zoning

Plan infrastructure to support future growth

Restore balance between open space and urban needs, and

Encourage affordable workforce housing

Copies of Forward to Prosperity, its full appendix and other supporting materials are freely available for reading or downloading at The website includes audio soundbites about the report for downloading by radio news departments.

Interested community groups are invited to contact the coalition to request speakers who can talk about this subject to their members. The coalition can be contacted via email at