Thursday, May 17, 2007

The wicked Act 1 witch is dead

I'd dance a jig right now but it wouldn't be a pretty sight.
All the e-mails have been terrific, but really, it wasn't me. You deserve all the credit for Act 1 going the way of the eight-track tape.
After a few days of basking in the glow we're going to have to start thinking seriously about a real plan for property tax reform.
I've suggested a sales tax on food but I've been bashed for bringing up a 'regressive' tax. I don't think it's regressive. I think it's fair.
But hey, I don't think I have all the answers.
How would you bring about real property tax reform?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't mind paying my property taxes. What I don't like is when the money is misspent in practices such as overpolicing and underprotection. If I pay property taxes, my kids should have a right to access local parks without being chased out. I'd like to see some of my property tax money spent on educating local law enforcement.

Lisa said...

Hi Stan,

I hope you don’t mind me jumping in with my “2 cents” on this topic….

Any new tax is simply going to be another version of the bait and switch. Instead of trying to identify new revenue streams, we should first start with budget cuts—beginning with reducing the number of legislators we employ in Harrisburg. The congressional perks are next (can you say, “Bye-bye motor pool?”), then a complete independent statewide audit. Look at all of the government waste that was happening just in PHEAA alone! Salaries for state workers should not, as a general rule, exceed 6 figures.

Keep in mind, we keep shoveling money at our public schools yet I don’t think anyone really believes we are getting adequate return on our investment. Trimming the fat budgets for our public schools and entitlement programs will yield additional savings.

If, after we have trimmed all of the possible fat out of the state budget, we still can’t come up with a way to fund property tax relief (which I doubt), only then would I be in favor of adding a new revenue stream to the state.

Any monies gained from removing budgetary waste should get immediately removed from the state budget and returned to the taxpayers.

Until we address the wasteful spending, our taxes are going to continue to rise. Government officials at ALL levels have demonstrated one thing very clearly: they are fiscally irresponsible and cannot be trusted to reign in spending on their own. Rendell already very eloquently demonstrated this principle with his solution of slots gambling. Not only is Harrisburg now backpedaling on the amount of revenue this new, controversial, venture will generate, but already we’re hearing stage whispers of expanding gambling beyond simply slots to generate even more revenue.

My solution is not a quick fix, but a necessary one. I’d be willing to wait for tax relief in exchange for permanent fiscal accountability in Harrisburg.

Lisa Mossie

Lisa Mossie said...

Hi Stan,

I hope you don’t mind me jumping in with my “2 cents” on this topic….

Any new tax is simply going to be another version of the bait and switch. Instead of trying to identify new revenue streams, we should first start with budget cuts—beginning with reducing the number of legislators we employ in Harrisburg. The congressional perks are next (can you say, “Bye-bye motor pool?”), then a complete independent statewide audit. Look at all of the government waste that was happening just in PHEAA alone! Salaries for state workers should not, as a general rule, exceed 6 figures.

Keep in mind, we keep shoveling money at our public schools yet I don’t think anyone really believes we are getting adequate return on our investment. Trimming the fat budgets for our public schools and entitlement programs will yield additional savings.

If, after we have trimmed all of the possible fat out of the state budget, we still can’t come up with a way to fund property tax relief (which I doubt), only then would I be in favor of adding a new revenue stream to the state.

Any monies gained from removing budgetary waste should get immediately removed from the state budget and returned to the taxpayers.

Until we address the wasteful spending, our taxes are going to continue to rise. Government officials at ALL levels have demonstrated one thing very clearly: they are fiscally irresponsible and cannot be trusted to reign in spending on their own. Rendell already very eloquently demonstrated this principle with his solution of slots gambling. Not only is Harrisburg now backpedaling on the amount of revenue this new, controversial, venture will generate, but already we’re hearing stage whispers of expanding gambling beyond simply slots to generate even more revenue.

My solution is not a quick fix, but a necessary one. I’d be willing to wait for tax relief in exchange for permanent fiscal accountability in Harrisburg.

Trying to Help said...

One part of the Act 1 referendum should stay--the part that puts a cap on school budgets. Of course all the schools will come in at just below the cap, but it's better than no cap. The folks who want property tax reform the most are senior citizens. If the Legislature really wants to help senior citizens, they should pass a simple formula along the lines of a homestead exemption such as occupying the same property for more than 20 or 25 years, or making a simple age/income formula so that seniors on pensions don't get taxed out of their homes.

Anonymous said...

Stan,

Until someone reigns in the out of control spending in the public school system, there is no revenue stream that will be suffient to support the bloated property tax system.

Think about it. Up until Act 1, Pennsylvania was one of the only states with no restriction on how much a school district could spend or how high they could raise our taxes. If you can't afford those taxes, you have 2 choices - either move or lose your home. In Pennsylvania, under this system, you really don't own your home, the School District does. Just ask a senior citizen on a fixed income.

The problem is that the people who are utilizing the service, the parents with children in public school, are not fully paying for that service. If every parent had to cut a check for the cost of their own child's public school education, I gaurentee there would be no need for property tax reform.

The way the system works now is that someone with 2 or 3 children in school costs the school District at least $12,000 per student. I don't think the average taxpayer is paying $12,000 in property taxes and for 3 children that would be $36,000. The money has to come from somewhere.

Some people have suggested getting the money from Harrisburg. Where do they think Harrsiburg gets it. They don't print it. They get it from the taxpayer through State taxes.

Even under Act 1, many of the District's have figured out ways to bypass the 3.4% index/cap with "special exemptions" that will allow them to raise taxes above the index. Also, 3.4% might not sound like much, but it is compounded yearly and with time will end up crippling the housing market.

Stan, yes the tax shifting scheme is dead. What are we going to do about the out of control spending---remember its for the children.

Until someone has the -----'s to address the out of control spending, there is no revenue stream large enough to support the system.


Swimming up the revenue stream