Markets breathed a big sigh of relief after Congress and President Barack Obama reached a last-minute deal to sidestep the dreaded fiscal cliff. While most of us were sipping champagne and watching the ball drop on New Year's Eve, federal lawmakers were busy hammering out a deal that would permanently extend the Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 a year and couples earning less than $450,000 a year. Individuals and couples making more saw their income tax rates rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. Now that that's settled, the next crisis to contend with will come in February when the powers that be in Washington face yet another deadline to address spending reductions and the debt ceiling.
Not-so Happy Valley
The ripple effects of sanctions against Penn State University have apparently trickled down to local business owners who say their bottom lines are hurting because of it. While they have no hard numbers on how much money they are losing, business owners in Happy Valley are strongly behind Gov. Tom Corbett's federal lawsuit over the NCAA sanctions against Penn State, which include paying $60 million to an endowment for child abuse programs and a four-year ban on post-season play. Post-Gazette reporter Laura Olson reported that Mr. Corbett was flanked by far more businessowners than college representatives when he announced the lawsuit.
Don't bet against the house
For the second straight year, Pennsylvania casinos are on track to collect more gambling dollars than any other state in the nation, except Nevada -- the undisputed granddaddy of all gaming states. According to PG reporter Mark Belko, Pennsylvania casinos in 2012 produced $2.47 billion in slot machine revenues, which is 2.7 percent higher than in 2011. Gamblers who lost that money to the state's 26,476 slot machines can at least feel good about the $1.3 billion in taxes that casinos paid this year to the state.
You may have been planning to toss that old TV or computer in the regular trash someday, but after Jan. 24 it will be illegal to send those items to the state's landfills. The state's Covered Device Recycling Act, put in place in 2010, prohibits consumers and businesses from throwing away televisions, desktops and laptop computers, computer monitors and printers in the normal trash. After Jan. 24, those items will have to be recycled either through designated electronic recycling facilities, through manufacturers or special electronic recycling collections events. PDAs and cellphones are exempt from the law.
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Tim Grant: email@example.com or 412-263-1591.