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The Commonwealth Foundation’s research and educational efforts are firmly established on several core values that form the basis of a “civil society.” The activities of the Foundation are therefore committed to:
- Respecting and protecting the lives and property of others.
- Recognizing the inseparability of personal and economic freedom.
- Upholding personal responsibility and accountability for one’s actions.
- Challenging the general perception that government intervention is the most appropriate most efficient means of solving societal problems.
- Demonstrating the power of private institutions—both for-profit and non-profit—to create a good and civil society.
- Promoting the use of economic reasoning to understand a world of scarcity, trade-offs, and the unseen consequences of governmental solutions to societal problems.
The Commonwealth Foundation had its origins at a Heritage Foundation meeting in Hershey, Pennsylvania in June 1987 when T. William Boxx and the late Alex G. McKenna were introduced to Don Eberly. Alex and William had been discussing for some time the possibility of launching a state-based think tank for Pennsylvania with the support and leadership of the Philip M. McKenna Foundation, of which Alex was chairman and William was secretary-treasurer.
The Commonwealth Foundation was incorporated on September 14, 1987. The term "Commonwealth" was included in the name because it symbolized the intent to represent the common good and reflected the official status of the state. "Public Policy Alternatives" was included to express the foundation's intent to provide an alternative policy agenda to that chosen by the Pennsylvania legislature.
At the first organization meeting, Alex McKenna expressed his vision for the Commonwealth Foundation. He stated that it was "to be an independent public policy organization not associated with any special interest...should act as policy entrepreneurs willing to take on the hard issues...produce scholarly and professional research from the perspective of enhancing economic growth, individual opportunity and political accountability...[and] look to free market private sector solutions...."
CF has a number of government transparency projects:
CF have supported the creation of a state spending database and in May 2009, Rep. Jim Christiana introduced HB 1460, which would do just that. Sen. Pat Browne introduced similar legislation in the Senate (SB 105). HB 1880, sponsored by Rick Mirabito passed the state house, and is expected to be taken in the the PA Senate.
No more taxes
Please, No More Taxes! is a website designed to inform and organize Pennsylvania taxpayers. It includes sections detailing taxes going toward corporate welfare, "walking around money," government waste, cronyism, and other miscellaneous projects.
School Choice Saves was set up by CF to promote school choice for both its educational and financial benefits. The site includes school choice facts, original research and reports, along with the latest news.
- T. William Boxx, "The Origins of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives," Commonwealth Sense, Vol. 20, No. 1, 2008.