(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

JB: I think I need another degree, like maybe a Wharton MBA.

BE: You mean because our industry's going down the drain and you need a new career?

JB: Well that, yeah. But meantime, just trying to figure out some of this state budget and tax stuff makes my head hurt.

BE: Kind of like what happens to me when I edit your column.

JB: Well, try this: The controversy over state revenue loss from coupling with the federal corporate expensing provision.

BE: Huh?

JB: My point exactly. Apparently it's a big deal. From what I can gather, part of the congressional tax compromise back in December allows states to join the feds in permitting corporate taxpayers to deduct all capital expenses for machinery and equipment through 2011.

BE: Um, OK.

JB: Our state Department of Revenue says that will cost PA $200 million in lost business taxes.

BE: In other words, a business tax cut at a time we're cutting social services, health-care for the working poor and schools funding.

JB: And that's got some folks fired up, especially since a D.C.-based policy center says the real loss to the state will be $833 million, not $200 million. Check this out from the Pittsburgh group, Catholics United, or this from the lefty online group Keystone Progress.

BE: That's a pretty big difference. Who's right?

JB: Well, here's the D.C.-based Center on Budget & Policy Priorities stuff and here's a Pittsburgh Tribune Review story about the issue in which some argue the policy can spur business growth and be good for the economy.

BE: Yeah, but who's right on this?

JB: Who knows? Which is why I'm gonna go get a Wharton MBA. See ya in a year or two. Grrr!