The Future Looks Grim for Pennsylvania

031213WereScrewed2I want you to take a very close look at that chart.  It comes from a study that was recently reviewed on PA Independent  (Link).  The chart doesn’t look good as it looks at the future for Pennsylvania related to the Pension crisis.

Then as you read the article you find this glaring statement:

And here’s what it will take in terms of state taxpayer contributions (not counting what school districts will have to pay with local tax dollars) to finally tame that debt burden.

Why is it that in all of these studies on the future economic status of the State they never include the impact of pension costs through the local School District Property Taxes? Pardon my cynicism but after the Senate Hearing on School Property Tax Independence I’m starting to think its because  the policy groups that work through the special interests that seek to control our government through the lobbying schemes just don’t give a rat’s butt about the average citizen in the state anymore.

I have nothing personal against a public sector union employee, nor do I hold any animosity against teachers or legislators but things are rapidly growing wildly out of control.   The median HOUSEHOLD income in the state of Pennsylvania, according to the Census Bureau is $52,267.  Just in case you missed the Capitol letters….that’s median HOUSEHOLD INCOME or the COMBINED MEDIAN INCOME of everyone in that household.

As of 2005 the base salary of a member of the legislature was $78,315 according to The Times Tribune (link).  While there is a lot of variation across the state the average starting salaries for teachers is $41,192 and average overall salaries for teachers is $60,760 making Pennsylvania the 4th friendliest state for teachers in the nation (according to Teacher’s Portal).  So the combined median household income for families in the state is 8 thousand dollars less than the average individual teacher’s salary and $26,000 less than the average individual legislator’s salary and yet it is somehow OUR responsibility to provide for THEIR retirement.

John Locke said:

“Whenever the power that is put in any hands for the government of the people, and the protection of our properties, is applied to other ends, and made use of to impoverish, harass or subdue them to the arbitrary and irregular commands of those that have it; there it presently becomes tyranny, whether those that thus use it are one or many”. (John Locke – Second Treatise, Chapter 18).

The deliberate choosing to ignore the impact of the pension costs on the average school property tax can’t be a mistake.  Obviously they all know its a problem or why would PA Independent include the disclaimer or for that matter why would Eli Evankovich stand on the floor of the house during a debate on an amendment that sought to eliminate the school property tax ask the question of how the pension would be provided for if the School Property tax is eliminated?

There are those who tell us that the School Property Tax isn’t the problem.  They tell us that if we fix the pension problem or the greater spending problem, the School Property tax wouldn’t be a problem anymore.   Isn’t that a little bit like expecting the individual who has a history of credit card abuse to correct the spending problem without taking away or capping their credit cards?  That somehow, by some miracle, they will permanently be cured after some minor slap on the wrist and public reprimand for bad spending policy without any real controls over future spending problems.  The Property Tax has become the enabler of the spending and the problem will not be fixed until the revenue stream is removed.

The chart above is bad for Pennsylvania homeowners but the story is much worse because they deliberately leave out the money to be paid into the pensions through the local property taxes.  Again, this is people with a much lower median household income providing for the retirements of people who are are earning far more than they are individually.  Worse yet is that when the tax on the property exceeds the individuals ability to pay they are forced to either sell their home or wait for the government agencies to seize their properties where it will be sold on auction for a fraction of its worth.

The economy of Pennsylvania is dependent upon two things:  Agriculture and the housing industry.  Certainly the property tax is a negative for both.  Actually it’s no longer just a negative but more like a proverbial millstone tied around the neck of Pennsylvania’s economy that is rapidly pulling it down the well.  In short, without the pension issue, the growing school tax burden has already doomed the economic future of the state…maybe that’s why these future economic studies don’t want to look at the impact of the pensions of an already doomed system.

Ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away….neither does holding endless hearings and doing nothing.  We need real and serious reform and we need it now because as the chart above clearly demonstrates the projected 5 year jump from 1 billion to 3.5 billion will be a quick death to many Pennsylvania home owners and those that manage to survive it will spend the next 15 years after that slowly and painfully dying as the state burden increases from 3.5 billion to 6 billion or 6 times the current burden WITHOUT FACTORING THE ADDITIONAL LOCAL BURDEN THROUGH THE PROPERTY TAX.  How can anybody see this as sustainable?

What happens when we do factor in the cost through the local school property tax?

Well farmland becomes impossible to keep without generous tax subsidies but that revenue has to be replaced so it gets replaced through homeowners.  That puts less available spending revenue  in the pockets of the homeowner which drives down the sales tax revenue.  It also negatively impacts the farmers bottom line which, if we are going to save the farms, will call for more farm subsidies.

In the meantime homes will be harder to sell because the taxes on them will be unaffordable and more people will face foreclosure and bankruptcy which makes lending more difficult in the state and then the state becomes an even worse place to do business than it already is.  Foreclosed and tax seized city homes will become magnates to the less desirable out of area landlords turning our cities into slums and making education in our city schools even more expensive.

There’s no way to spin this people….though certainly many do by ignoring to factor in this critical part of the future of Pennsylvania economics.  The property tax without the pension issue is already unsustainable because its an unlimited credit card to an unrepentant spoiled child who doesn’t give a damned about who pays the bills so long as they can keep spending.   With the property tax, their spending will result in the bankruptcy of those paying the bills and that means a loss of their homes as well as personal income as jobs become harder to sustain in the state.

We don’t have any more time for these legislative games or the stonewalling of bills that will help homeowners in the state by special interests who take more than their share of the pie when it comes to government spending for their own causes.  We need a system that is accountable to the people and the property tax just isn’t that system.

One of the things the school property tax system does is it spreads the problem out over 500 school districts.  In order for the outrage to correct itself, all 500 school districts would have to rebel at the same time and that’s not likely to happen.   This allows those used to playing the system to target a handful of school districts for abuse each year and then lay low in those school districts for several years while they move on to other school districts and hit them.  The ridiculous increase in one year is followed by 3 to 6 years of no or low increases. In the meantime it’s the next school district getting hit and then it moves to the next before it finally comes back around and this way they can subdue the average homeowners into a sense of helplessness.  It’s a well played and orchestrated shell game of moving the marble around so that we never really know when or where its going to turn up but it always turns up.

Those playing this game are using the myth of Local Control to perpetuate the status quo.  They tell us we need to run for school board and fix the problems there.  Let’s understand that there are 253 state legislators so we would need to elect 26 dedicated reform minded Senators for a majority in the Senate and 102 reform minded house members for a total of 128 reform minded legislators for a total majority.  They would have to be of a united mind and purpose. What are the chances of that happening?

Noiw let’s fight the same battle on the school district home front.  There are 500 school districts and you need 5 reform minded people on each school district to make the real reforms necessary across the state.  That means we would need to elect 2,500 reform minded school board members.  Then again even with those 2,500 you still need the 128 reform minded state legislators because education is mandated and controlled by the State General Assembly through the Department of Education and through the Public School Code of 1949 and Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code which controls things like Prevailing Wage, teacher contracts, hiring and firing, building codes and regulations, policies and a myriad of other state controlled aspects of education that the 2,500 school board members have no control over.  The takeover of the school boards is a gimmick fix that’s all part of the shell game.  A strong reform minded school board just becomes an easy target for the powerful state union to attack and we’ve seen that play out several times over the years in the state.

We’re heading into a new year and as we do isn’t it time we make this year, 2014, the year of the property owner in the State of Pennsylvania.  That’s my New Years Resolution and we’ll do that by passing SB 76 and forcing the House to deal with this issue while not allowing for any more of their lame excuses.  The Governor has promised that he will sign the bill if it goes to his desk and, with this being an election year, as bad as things are for Governor Corbett, failure to keep that promise in Pennsylvania would destroy any chance of his re-election.  Not just his re-election but it has the potential of destroying the Republican party in the state as well.

That might not be a bad thing if your a Democrat but let’s be honest…they aren’t any better.  The Pennsylvania Homeowner has been shafted by both parties and they been shafted repeatedly without so much as a by your leave.

I’m going to end this with a quote from the Declaration of Independence that is very appropriate to this issue.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

Happy New year to you and yours with the best of wishes for 2014….The Year Of The Property Owner in Pennsylvania!

Top 10 Ridiculous Reasons Given To Oppose School Property Tax Independence (HB/SB 76)

Top 10 Ridiculous Reasons to Oppose School Property Tax Independence

John-Locke-Bio“Whenever the power that is put in any hands for the government of the people, and the protection of our properties, is applied to other ends, and made use of to impoverish, harass or subdue them to the arbitrary and irregular commands of those that have it; there it presently becomes tyranny, whether those that thus use it are one or many”. (John Locke – Second Treatise, Chapter 18).

As we approach the end of another year the struggle for Property Tax Independence moves forward but I think the past 18 months has been a startling revelation of the way special interests and some of our State Legislators look at the average citizen in the State of Pennsylvania.  As is typical, I want to end the year with a look back at the 10 most egregious statements made in opposition to the School Property Tax Independence Bills HB/SB 76.   The above quote by John Locke will figure predominantly in this look back so keep that in mind as you read on.

1. During the house hearing last year Michael Wood of the supposedly non-partisan Keystone Research Center and Research Director of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center declared that 10,000 people losing their homes each year is not a significant enough number to do anything about it.   In my opinion that should have made headlines across the state but most media outlets simply chose to ignore this statement.  Consider that that 10,000 people include people who lose their homes after it is actually paid for in full but now, in retirement, the taxes exceed their ability to pay….for many the taxes are higher then they paid in their monthly mortgage.  Frankly, I can not imagine any scenario where the plight of 10,000 people annually that reaches a point of losing their homes, can be dismissed in the manner that Mr. Woods dismissed them.  That the media chooses to ignore this statement from a very influential lobbying group during a public hearing is, in my opinion, outrageous.

2.  After an attempt was made to include HB 76 as an amendment to replace another property tax bill Eli Evankovich took to the floor of the House and asked Rep. Jim Cox how we would pay for the pensions if we eliminated the School Property Tax.  Again, I would have thought the media, who understands the plight of the tax payers when it comes to the unfunded pensions, would have been all over this but once again, there is the eerie sound of silence.   The legislators granted themselves and other State Employees and teachers very lucrative pensions that have never garnered the interest to support the weight and when it comes to local government employees and teachers, the cost of this is apparently supposed to be borne through the local property tax, at least that’s what Mr. Eli Evankovich states.  So, it would seem, some people must lose their homes so that others can retire early on a very comfortable pension scheme created by the state legislators and the burden of this is to be borne by property owners.

3.  During a public town hall Rep Kerry Benninghoff claimed that the reason we haven’t seen Property Tax Elimination is the fault of the citizens of the state.   So let me get this straight.  For 30 years we’ve been begging for elimination.  For 30 years Legislators like Benninghoff have stood in the way of the legislation and somehow this is the fault of the people.  In many counties the Property Tax issue is a key issue in elections and many legislators get elected promising to do something about it.  In surveys conducted across the state poll results show that between 60 and 75% of the people want total elimination and would be wiling to accept a higher sales and/or income tax to replace the property tax, but its out fault and not the fault of legislators like Benninghoff.  That’s simply ridiculous.

4.  During the Senate hearings it was suggested that we go to a statewide reassessment.  This had previously been suggested at a hearing by the Urban Affairs Committees in Reading where it was stated that in order to maintain a fair reassessment it would have to be done every three years.  It is actually suggested rather frequently without exploring the cost of such a proposal.  With 67 counties and a cost of 5 to 10 million per county, depending on the population,  a property tax many can already not afford would see any additional burden driving up their property taxes making even more people unable to afford the property tax and some groups think this is a solution.  That Suggestion in the Senate Hearing came out of the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center who also gave us the 10,000 people losing their homes claim so maybe the quote shouldn’t surprise us.  Certainly if 10,000 people losing their homes is insignificant than driving up the cost of their taxes in order to maintain the status quo wouldn’t be too much to ask.  For me, I would be asking how an organization with such apparent disdain for the people of the state actually gets a seat at the table to offer input in very important affairs that impact the lives of the average citizen.

5.  The loss of Local Control.  We hear this one everywhere and its amazing that so many people blindly accept this to be a reality when it so blatantly apparent that the only control the local school boards really have is over how much they will increase the property tax.  Public Education is mandated, regulated and controlled by the state.  The myriad of State appointed Department, Agencies and Commissions, using The Public School Code of 1949 and Title 22 of the Pennsylvania Code, control virtually every school policy which must always be in compliance with state regulations.  Hiring, Firing, Discipline, its all in the Codes.  Prevailing Wage, New building and renovation Construction Codes  are also in these codes.  While they claim local schools can select their own curriculum that’s only true so long as the curriculum they select is approved by the state.  Now with intervention and interference in curriculum through No Child Left Behind and Common Core even the Federal Government is pulling the strings on Curriculum choices.  Local Control is a myth and its an excuse used to stand in the way of property tax reform to maintain the status quo that perpetuates the problems that many of the special interest recognize but have offered no real solution to resolve the problems.  Many of these special interests that are working hard to oppose Property Tax Independence financially benefit by the unfunded mandates that force school districts to use services of organizations represented by these same special interests.  If families must have their lives uprooted or their homes seized in order to maintain this…so be it.

6.   Property Taxes are a stable form of revenue.  The statement is true but the reason its true is rarely discussed because it would perhaps be too embarrassing to admit the reason for the stability.  It’s only a stable form of revenue for the tax collector because the system is so loose that if there are shortfalls the milage is just increased to compensate for loss of income until the past due tax is paid or the property is seized and sold for back taxes.  In the meantime many families and seniors do without in order to make desperate attempts to cling to their homes as long as they are able.  With the state over 1 billion dollars in property tax related debt that statement of stability needs to seriously be questioned but once again the majority of the media outlets simply ignore this.  IN order to make up for that loss of 1 billion in revenue, the property tax must be inflated to keep that revenue stream stable for local governments and school districts.  This only makes it more difficult for more people to keep up with the property tax and the problem continues to grow incrementally worse. The stability of the revenue from Property Tax is built upon a premise of assuring the instability  the one paying the tax.  It’s stability is derived from the same assurance that extortion money is derived from.  You pay to avoid a delivery of the promise of a threat.  When it comes to your property, failure to keep up with the cost of the tax results in the loss of the home where it is sold on auction for a fraction of its worth in order to satisfy the tax man and with no regard to just compensation to your investment into that property.

7. I hate to turn to another reference to Kerry Benninghoff but the claim is just to ridiculous to ignore.  During that same town hall Kerry Benninghoff, while discussing HB/SB 76 which is exclusively School Property Tax Elimination, went on a lengthy diatribe about the cost of fire halls and fire engines as being a contributing factor to rising property taxes.  Fire Departments and the cost of fire departments is an unrelated issue…it has nothing to do with SCHOOL Property Taxes  Of course over the last 18 months most of our opposition has been spending an awful lot of time bringing unrelated issues to the table to detract from talking about the issue at hand, School Property Tax and it’s elimination.  That was painfully obvious during opposition talking points, whether legislative or special interest, during all of the hearings in Harrisburg on the subject.

8.  Freezing or deferring property taxes for seniors in the state.  Of the two options freezing is better for seniors that a deferment but once again few are willing to speak out loud about where the money for these “Solutions” come from.   Freezing property taxes on Seniors means raising property taxes on all other property owners to compensate for lost revenue in future increases therefore making it more difficult for younger families to either stay in their homes or to purchase a home to begin with.  A deferment would mean that the property would continue to accrue taxes as long as the seniors lived which would then be paid in full by family members when the estate was settled.  In 20 years a property tax of $2,500 a year would result in a tax debt of $50,000 but remember that if property taxes continue to increase at the rate it has increased in the last 20 years that debt could easily double or triple.

9.  Property Tax isn’t the problem it’s any one of a hundred different things that, depending on the opposing legislator or opposing special interest must be fixed and then magically property tax will no longer be a problem.  Property tax is the great enabler.  Legislators, Departments, Agencies and Commissions and special interests can drive their agendas without consideration of cost to the state because the state can just push them down to the local level through another mandate that has to be paid for at the local level.  Recently Harrisburg passed two “property tax bills” that exempt farm land that is used for high tunnel structures which were both signed by Governor Corbett.  While this is good news for farmers, other property owners beware.  The loss of that local revenue is going to have to come from some other place and as we have seen in the past, we are looking at increasing property taxes on other  property owners.  Perhaps this is an attempt to buy off the Farm Bureau’s support of HB/SB 76 but whatever the reason, relief for some at the expense of others without elimination for all is not a solution.  Higher property taxes for other property owners results in lower disposable income  for those property owners making it more difficult for them to buy the products made in those high tunnel structures.  I fully support the family farms and believe we need to end the over regulation of the farming industry.  I also believe one of the most effective ways of making this happen is the Elimination of Property Taxes on all property, including farms.  Selective exemptions may benefit some in the short term but, as we have seen repeatedly, the property tax must increase to cover the loss of revenue and then everyone loses.

10.  So here it is…number 10.  I believe this statement is so egregious that it must be completely quoted in its full context.

“The fact that we are here and people are painfully paying a tax that they’re struggling to do, that means the tax is working.  You know what?  That’s great, because what this bill would do is alleviate the pain and when we alleviate the pain of school funding, now, all of a sudden, we’re not talking about this issue of how we’re spending the money anymore because now, everybody is feeling good.  Now, all of a sudden, we’ve put a band aid on this.  Right?  We’ve alleviated the pain and now people aren’t talking about the spending.  I’m not so sure that, from a tax policy perspective, angry tax payers – this is driven by spending – the angry tax payer thing – isn’t necessarily the check – it’s the amount of the check..”  `Warren Hudak during the Senate Hearing on SB 76

So you are walking down the street and see someone being beaten to a pulp and the solution is to shout out to the one being pummeled that the pain proves that the beating is working.  Seriously!!!!?

I heard a story that when the Jews were being transported to concentration camps on the Nazi trains and those trains went past a church holding services the Germans would sing their hymns louder so they wouldn’t hear the sound of the of Jews crying out from the trains.

Ayn Rand once said “It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice (Pain), there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings.  Where’s there’s service, there is someone being served.  The man who speaks to you of sacrifice in speaking of slaves and masters and intends to be the master.”

And this brings us back, full circle, to John Locke.  The property tax was once a means by which local governments  funded the necessary functions of government.  That is no longer the case and nowhere is that more true than with the school property taxes.  Property taxes are no the tools by which state and federal legislators and the special interests and the lobbyists who fund them utilize legislation to pass privilege to some at the expense of others down to the local level.  This has become a cherished institution in a war between cronyism and the common citizen where there are always victims and the victims are always regular citizens whose only crime is that they own property that some feel they do not deserve to own.  After all, it’s been said that if they can’t afford the taxes they shouldn’t be in the home and the people saying this are perfectly comfortable saying it until it’s their turn.   Eventually it will be. Of course when the only people who actually own their homes are people in the top 50% of the income bracket then most people who oppose elimination now will be in favor of it.  Pain in Mr. Hudak’s phraseology is a relative pain…as in their pain, not my pain.

In my opinion, to realize that others actually feel a tax pain to the point of losing the home they have labored towards their entire life. to admit to that pain….to actually state they are aware of the pain, and then insist we do nothing to take away that pain but actually tell them the pain is good for them because it somehow benefits what Mr. Hudak wants to accomplish becomes the least humane of all human beings.

Mr. Hudak’s quote might be number 10 but it is the core of what every other opposing voice has been saying all along.  He was the only one honest, if perhaps foolish enough, to say it out loud.   I guess that should earn him some credit but I can’t bring myself to respect his honestly when it comes at the expense of so many others.  Telling me you’re going to beat me up before you do so may be honest but it will do nothing to earn my respect or to make the pain any easier to tolerate.

As I stated, he might be the only one to actually say it out loud but it is the sentiment of every opposing voice.  They have no intention of easing the pain but would inflict more pain if it allowed them to advance their own agenda and it is only if we willfully sit back and allow them to continue to do so, that they win.  I have no intention of allowing this and I will hold these people accountable to their words.  If you interpret that as a threat, regardless of the leaps of imagination you must make to do so, than so be it.  There is a real threat to the citizens of this state and that threat is everyone protecting the status quo of the property tax like the tyrants Locke warned us about to use it for every agenda and activity you wish advanced through unfunded legislative means.

I firmly believe that the reason you do not want the burden of education funding shifted back to the state is because you do not want the cost of your agenda exposed to the public.  As it is now it can be hidden through the 501 school districts across the state where no one really can measure the real cost to the tax payers.   I believe that you fear the exposure of your free ride at our expense.  I believe that to be true of certain legislators as well as the special interests who oppose us.

As the New Year comes I resolve that I will not only do everything in my power to see this through.  I will also do everything in my power to expose the power that is applied to other ends to impoverish, harass or subdue us and our property to the arbitrary and irregular commands of those tyrants, whether those that thus use it are one or many!

The War On Christianity!

By now I am sure that most of you have heard about Phil Robertson’s suspension from Duck Dynasty on A&E as a result of comments he made during an interview with GQ magazine.   If you are like me your inbox has been hit with messages related to this story.   If you are a facebook user then you are also aware that this is a very hot topic.

11174I happen to me in the relative minority of people in that I have never seen an episode of Duck Dynasty but that does not make me ignorant of its cultural impact.  During our ventures into the malls for the Christmas season as well as with online shopping coupled with my Facebook friends, Duck Dynasty is something of a cultural phenomenon.  The fact that I am not in the informed inner circle of Duck Dynasty fans is irrelevant to the issue at hand.


There are those who will say this is a social issue and we shouldn’t be involved in social issues.  I disagree.  This is not a social issue.  This is a rights issue that is fundamental to the founding princip0les of our Nation.  The disease of progressive liberalism is destroying this nation leaving many bewildered about truth, about liberty, about our freedoms.

By suspending Phil Robertson, A&E has made it clear that they reject Phil’s faith based position on homosexuality.  That’s fine. A&E has a right to express their own feelings and as a business,restrict that message.   Let’s be clear though, A&E is discriminating against Phil Robertson. The question then falls upon us….Will we continue to support A&E and the advertisers who make use of the channel who are discriminating against such faith based debate and discussion? To me, this is the core of this debate. This is why this is not a social issue but an issue about rights.

I would like to take this one bold step further.  With all the pressure mounting against A&E, is an apology from A&E enough for you to look the other way if they remove the suspension and return Phil to the Duck Dynasty cast.   There is a principle at issue here and it’s not really about Phil Robertson’s personal views on homosexuality.  It is about his right to express those views or for that matter, the right of any other person to express views that I may find offensive.  An expression of views that I do not agree with do not force me to accept those views or to give them any credence.  My right to believe what I believe remains.   If the views of Phil Robertson offended the gay community they can choose not to watch the program.  It’s really that simple.   However by taking a stand and choosing to discriminate against Phil Roberts A&E is choosing to be intolerant to one view in the name of tolerance of another.  You can’t have it both ways.

A&E has programming that supports gay views and it becomes my call whether or not I choose to support such programming.  You cross a distinct line however when you completely silence the voice of one group to advocate for another.  You are then no longer an advocate of free speech but an advocate of Fascist control of thought using fear and intimidation in the name of political correctness.  Make no mistake, it may be political but it is, in no way, correct.  I make no apologies for that statement.  I believe that A&E is exerting a force of Fascism in punishing Phil Robertson for his belief’s.

Each of us are accountable and responsible for our choices.  This type of Fascism removes that control from us and places those controls in the hands of others.   In short, the ones making the choices are attempting to control you. I refuse to allow A&E to control me or my belief’s through tactics of fear and intimidation.

Let’s also understand that this is not an isolated incident.  It is not just an issue that is only impacting us on National level.  Pennsylvania is moving into very dangerous areas of using “political correctness” as a tool to generate fear and intimidation in the expression of our religious views.   Shrinking the size of our Legislative body limits our representative powers and puts more power in the hands of individuals who can use that power to to advance these controls over us.

I am personally deeply offended by the fact that my tax dollars are already being used to help support organizations actively engaged in the slaughter on children under the guise of supporting woman’s rights or that an organization like Planned Parenthood, born out of the racist eugenics mind of Margaret Sanger, is allowed to make use of federal and state tax generated monies taken from the citizens to support such a horrendous practice;   In doing so they make me an unwilling participant in the murder of children and a denial of their right to life.   While I may politically and religiously be opposed and offended by abortions, using taxes collected from me to fund the organizations committing these atrocities forces my hands into that blood and like it or not, the blood of 57 million aborted babies in the United States is on all our hands.   For our tax dollars being sent oversees to fund abortion mills in other countries that number stands at 1.3 billion since1980.   I think of Jefferson when I reflect on these numbers and hear his words ” can the liberties of a nation bethought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever . . . .”

Putting those controls in the hands of fewer people which will most likely fall into the hands of incumbents entrenched in the filth of the political machinery and corruption is not healthy for any of us and the informed status of the average voter offers me no real comfort that smaller government in size in any limits the powers of government when the government is already ignoring the constitutional rule of law that are in place.

Recently, in the name of tolerance, two bills have been introduced (HB300 and SB300).  Governor Corbett has publicly announced his support of these bills.  While the bills are identified as non-discriminatory bills, similar bills in other states have been used to advance agendas that most Pennsylvanians would find offensive.  As Action of PA has pointed out:  “These bills would also affect youth organizations.  For instance, a scout camp could be forced to hire a summer camp counselor who is confused about his/her gender.  The bill also would prohibit locker room discrimination.  So, if a boy feels like he wants to use the girls’ locker room, this bill would allow for that.”

Frankly, this alleged non-discriminatory tolerance paves the way for predators like Jerry Sandusky to use faith-based or other institutions for their own personal desires and on the heels of such a scandal in Pennsylvania, the rush to push legislation that opens the doors for more predators like Sandusky without consideration of the protections that should be afforded to our children is a gross miscarriage of justice to our children and to society.

I am tired of continuing to allow the government to pass legislation they enables predators of children access to their prey or to fund organizations that participate in the denial or protected rights to our children. Without these predator enabling laws, Sandusky was allowed to continue preying upon young boys for almost a decade after the first charges were made against him and he was finally convicted.  I can’t help but feel that HB and SB 300 will only make that situation worse.  If these legislators feel that the predators should be protected, how can they also think they should be prosecuted when their actions are discovered or that you can place blame upon the institutions who, forced by such laws, must ignore preference and place our children in harm’s way.   And I want this to be clear.  I would not want an adult heterosexual male to supervise the girls in a way that gave them access to the private functions of the girls life any more then I would want an adult homosexual male to have the same access to boys.  That’s not discrimination, that’s common sense.

I also have very grave concerns about a young boy who, for whatever reasons, is convinced he is a girl now having access to the girl’s locker room or bathroom in any school where my grandchildren currently attend all enabled by a law that not only enables such activity but would make it mandatory.    Does this not also allow for a terrace who identifies themselves as transgender to become a phys ed teacher without any scrutiny that could result in transgender women supervising the boys locker room or transgender men supervising the girls?

Sexual abuse in the relationship between teachers and students is becoming far more commonplace in our public schools and that involves both homosexual and heterosexual contact.   Its not isolated to the “Big City” schools but is taking place in rural schools as well.   If we, as a society, are so open to accepting homosexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism and transgendered sexuality, it is not unreasonable to see the path this paves for polygamy, pedophilia and bestiality.

As we have seen several times in the past, these non-discrimination bills are often immediately seized upon by activists to discriminate against those with faith based and opposing views where they intentionally target and then attack a faith based business, organization or individual to use as a political tool forcing the denial of the owners of a business, operators of an organization or even individuals to express their faith principles in direct violation of the protections of the first amendment.  In doing so they use a non-discriminatory policy to discriminate against the beliefs of another.

There is an open war on traditional Christian values and the protections of the first amendment where Congress shall make NO laws promoting or restricting religious expression are continually being ignored.  By using the first amendment to restrict the voice of religious expression of Christians under the false interpretation of separation of Church and State,  they promote the religious world views of some while denying the same protections to others in complete hypocrisy to the law and the very nature of “tolerance” itself.

I have very clear views concerning my faith principles and I would not force any other individual to submit to those views forcefully against their will.  I expect the same from those holding opposing views.   Another individual choosing to live a lifestyle alternative to my beliefs is not a threat to me until I am forced to become an unwilling participant or am legislatively punished for holding an opposing view.

Phil Robertson’s views were not a threat to any homosexual, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person.  Those views were his religious views openly and freely expressed. The Duck Dynasty show airs on a network that also airs programming that advocates for alternative lifestyles.  He may have offended the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community but his words did not stop any of them from pursuing that lifestyle nor did it punish them in any way.  A&E’s actions however became an immediate punitive threat to Phil Robertson that extends as a threat to all who would embrace that view.  It did not start with Phil Robertson, nor will it end with him as long as we continue to allow this erosion of our freedoms and liberties to continue.

This is no different that what happened with the faith based bakery who refused to make a cake for a gay couple.  The bakery was deliberately targeted by gay activists but the decision not to bake the cake for the couple did not stop them, not did it prevent them in any way, from being homosexual.  The homosexual community is free to go to another bakery but that’s not enough, they must force their views on others by making them comply.  Forcing the bakery to make the cake through legislative powers did discriminate against the faith of the bakery.   The rights of expression of the owners of that business are denied.

That legislative or judicial activity is not just about forcing the bakers to embrace views alien to to their faith, it is a clear message of fear and intimidation to others.  It is also removing my ability to choose which business I will support based upon my own faith principles.  That is control.  That is Fascism.

The same thing is happening in our military where Chaplains are being punished for using the name of Jesus Christ or where members of the military are forbidden from sharing their faith.   In such actions no other person is forced to accept the individuals premise or principles but in forcing those sharing their faith to be silent, the faith of that individual is silenced and there is a very real threat to their own religious expression.  There is nothing tolerant about such actions.

You can express your concerns about this issue directly with A&E  Network by calling them at 212-210-1400.  You can also email them at

In Liberty,

Jim Rodkey

Send In The Clowns!

For more than 30 years the people of Pennsylvania have been crying for Property Tax Elimination.  Candidates make it a central issue on their campaign platforms and for 30 years we’ve been putting people in office who promise to finally do something about it.  So why hasn’t it happened?

Clowns with no solutionsYear after year as legislation has been introduced and moved forward, those special interest groups come out of the woodwork and start using their political clout to stand in the way of property tax reform and every time they do they bring the same old tired excuses while offering no real solutions.

During the several hearings on HB/SB 76 we have seen this played out and along the way we’ve heard some pretty ingratiating statements being made by legislators and special interests alike.  While this tactic has worked for 30 years, the people of Pennsylvania have about had it.  They can read the handwriting on the wall and many realize that this is no longer just about the property taxes being too high, we are at a point where it is absolutely unsustainable and we know that its only going to get worse.

One of the excuses is that property taxes are just a symptom; that the real problem is a myriad of other countless issues that must be fixed and that somehow that will bring us property tax relief.  Excuse me….relief is NOT elimination.  We’ve settled for the relief in the past and we know what that means.

While pointing to all of these other issues, every detractor ignores that property tax is the enabler of virtually every one of those issues.  Without Elimination, those issues we fix temporarily today are only going to resurface at some future time.  Unfunded Mandates (without a property tax how do the legislators pass down unfunded mandates on a school district); The Pension Debate (without a property tax tax how do the legislators pass down the costs of the pension on a local school district); Common Core (without a property tax how does the Department of Education make local school districts pay for it);  Prevailing Wage Reform (without the property tax the legislators would have to address this issue because there would be no local resources to pay for it);  The Problems with the State Education Funding Formula….The Property Tax makes it possible for legislators to keep kicking the can down the road on those issue and the problem for home owners is that the can they are kicking is our home.

001-1202232952-propertytax1For Scores of Pennsylvanian’s, it’s already too late.  The Property Tax has eaten away their resources to a point where they can no longer afford to keep their homes and whether they want to hear this or not the truth is that the majority of people aren’t losing their homes because they bought too much home in the housing bubble.  They are losing their homes because of the opposition of the special interest groups and the legislators who are on the dole of special interest groups willing to appease them at the expense of the common citizen.

Let’s take a look at some of the so-called solutions being offered by this opposition.

1.  We need a statewide assessment board and regular assessments:   That sounds reasonable if we assume that assessments actually do keep property taxes fair, which study after study has clearly demonstrated that they do not. The IFO has already shown us what is happening with the property tax compared to other costs on the citizens of Pennsylvania:

chart 1That graph represents the last 20 years and we can then project what is going to happen with the next twenty….but wait.  This does not take into account the Pension Bomb that’s going to slam a dose of reality into the state in the next five years.  What we see is that the Pension issue isn’t the problem, Property Taxes are already ramping up without them.  Fixing the Pension issue isn’t going to fix this problem for homeowners.  It may stop a massive hemorrhage when it hits but there is still that steady painful death if we don’t eliminate.

The Assessment issue requires that the entire state be reassessed every three years.  The estimate cost of such an assessment is between 600 million and 1 billion dollars every three years.  So the solution to the the problem of people not being able to afford their property taxes is to initiate a program that is going to cost them an additional 200 million to 350 million per year that isn’t going to stop their property taxes from increasing but is going to add more need for tax revenue.   That’s not a solution.

2.  Shrinking the Property Tax Base.  Several people are proposing solutions that essentially shrink the base.  They say,  “Let’s freeze the Property Tax for Senior Citizens.”  So if a Senior is already struggling with their property tax by sacrificing food and meds just to keep their homes some would want to freeze them in that state so they don’t lose their home but continue to feel the pain of doing without.  The problem with any of these solutions is that they provide some relief to certain classes of citizens that always places a higher burden on other people.  It’s not like freezing the property tax lowers the revenue needed, it just shifts that burden on to others by shrinking the base.  That will only create more people who need property tax relief.    It’s not a solution because once again, it doesn’t fix the problem….it makes it worse.

trailer3.  Expand the Taxing Authority of the School District.  Let’s refer to this as the Grove Solution because Representative Grove wears it so proudly.  Grove hates HB/SB 76 and he’s not afraid to tell us so.  He has given us HB 1189 which essentially promises the possibility of property tax elimination while make sure that it never happens.  It expands the taxing authority of the school district into three more areas, does nothing to cap education spending to inflation and as a result does nothing to offer us real tax relief.  Like previous relieve attempts, we pay more for the illusion of relief while not actually getting it.

That should come as no surprise.  One of the roles of the clown is to create a distraction between the big acts.  That doesn’t matter whether its a circus clown or a rodeo clown.  The problem in the circus of Pennsylvania Politics is that the Clowns are more plentiful and the distractions are there to allow the other actors in the circus to slip under the bleachers and pick our pockets.

property_tax_by_davidayala-d5z67jxIf you are like me, you are tired of the Clowns.  It doesn’t matter who those clowns are.  The Clowns who say any of the above or other really ridiculous things like 10,000 people losing their homes isn’t a big enough problem in the state to do anything about it…..How do we pay for the pension if we eliminate Property Taxes……Painful taxes are good for the state….it just doesn’t matter because these aren’t the funny lovable clowns in the circus or in our Holiday Parades in their little tiny cars driving around in circles, honking their horns or making cute little animals out of balloons.

These clowns are more in line with a Stephen King book…you know the one.

3492787484_cd6c143c74There’s nothing funny about these clowns.  Their opposition to property tax elimination (even though they claim it’s about the poor) has resulted in higher property taxes that drive up the cost of the goods and services the poor need to survive.  The Opposition to property tax elimination in the last 30 years have driven up the cost of rent, the cost of food and the cost of clothing by taxing the farms where the food and materials for our clothing is grown.  Then taxing the properties of the factories that process these goods.  Then Taxing the the property of the shipping companies that ship the goods, the warehouses that store the goods and the stores that sell the goods.

The property tax is also responsible for creating a transient life for our children (even though they claim that the high cost of education is all about the children).  Higher rents force people to move more.  Higher property taxes force families out of their homes.  It might be stable revenue because of the fear of losing the property but for the homeowner being taxed out of their house creates instability and a tension that results in insecurity in our children.

The property tax is also the single greatest reason our seniors leave or lose their homes. Promising to freeze their taxes isn’t a solution for them and its not a solution to us.   Its abuse.  It’s like telling the slave tied to the whipping post that the guy with the whip won’t hit them anymore without telling them they won’t hit them any less either.

Maybe its time we tell the clowns to sit down and shut up.  That would be fair…that’s what they been telling us for the last 30 years.  Maybe its time to get those clowns off the tracks and let the train of property tax elimination move forward.  For us, the homeowners, there really isn’t any other options.  We either clear the tracks or we face the inevitable and this time, people can see the inevitable. So can the legislators who are fighting for the people.  It’s about time!


Should taxes be painful?

I’ve been engaged in the Property Tax debate long enough to think that I’ve heard just about every ridiculous excuse there is in opposing this shift from property to fund education to a tax on labor and product.  I didn’t think any reason or excuse would actually shock or surprise me any more but I was proven wrong on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 when Warren Hudak, Chairman of NFIB’s Small Business Tax Services, said:

“The fact that we are here and people are painfully paying a tax that they are struggling to do…that means the tax system is working”.

I want to state that I like Mr Hudak and that I also believe that he is a patriot on many reform issues that face this state but I have always believed that he is dreadfully wrong on the property tax issue and the above statement only confirms my sentiments.

In the first place, if the tax system was so painful to small business that it was resulting in the government seizing their businesses and selling those businesses for a fraction of its worth on a regular and county by county basis the way it is happening with homeowners, I believe that Mr. Hudak would be up in arms and using his paid position in the NFIB to lobby for changes.  What Mr Hudak is saying is that the pain of others is okay, as long as that pain is not inflicted on him or the companies he represents.

Mr Hudak, seems to have misplaced an understanding of the very nature of true competitive free market principles.  In such a state businesses compete for the support of consumers where the market can drive competition and prices.  In this type of market a company that provides good customer service and a reliable product allows a business to become successful.

The basis of this is recognizing the support needed from the consumer.  However, as we have moved away from a consumer controlled business environment into a government lobbyist controlled environment where grants, subsidies and tax loopholes keep a business functioning and not through the consumer base perhaps Mr Hudak no longer thinks we need the consumer to stay in business.

The less discretionary spending the consumer has the more difficult it becomes for a business to compete for that money because there is less of it to spend.  By making a tax system burdensome enough that some have lost their homes is beyond acceptable to me as I believe it should be for Mr Hudak since the small independent business is reliant on the spending of the consumer to stay in business (except where there is subsidy, grants and loopholes that aren’t available to the average homeowner – NOR SHOULD THERE BE IF WE ARE TO HAVE A FAIR SYSTEM OF TAXATION THAT EQUALLY TAXES THE SAME CLASS OF CITIZEN AT THE SAME RATE AS OUR COMMONWEALTH CONSTITUTION SAYS IT SHOULD).

The runaway property taxes most drastically impact the lower middle income families and the elderly and maybe the new mindset of the NFIB is that these consumers are not worth competing for so if they lose their homes….so what!  Then their pain doesn’t matter.

This short-sighted vision of the future ignores that as this system unfolds the property tax base becomes smaller, as statistics have clearly shown it has.  As that base becomes smaller it requires more from each person to sustain it.  This will continue to shrink the base until we will be forced to do what HB/SB 76 proposes by going to a different system to fund education and it will be at a rate that will make living in the State unaffordable to the majority of the people in the state.

Throughout this testimony on Tuesday we heard other ridiculous claims like going to a statewide regular assessments.  It is estimated that to keep property taxes remotely equitable this would have to take place every three years.  The average per county cost of a reassessment being around $10 million with 67 counties would add $223 million in cost to the state government annually.  And yet, as demonstrated in every reassessment, every where a reassessment has been conducted, they have failed to accomplish the goal of making the tax fair which results in thousands of appeals at additional cost of services, legal fees and hours to those who need to appeal.

The Property Tax is a ridiculously flawed system that simply no longer works yet some claim of the stability of the revenue from the tax while ignoring that the cost of this tax is contributing, in part, to the alleged instability of the Sales Tax.  When my taxes go up my ability to purchase goes down.  That impacts revenue to the state from the Sales Tax and its all just expanding the ever growing negative impact on the economy because of the property tax.  To now hear from a representative of the business community that thinks that my pain is good makes me question if these member and supporting groups of the NFIB agree and if so, would you please make that sentiment publicly known so I can make an informed decision as to whether or not I will continue to support you.

If you disagree, what are you going to do to hold Mr Hudak, your representative who was your voice on this issue on Tuesday the 10th of this month, accountable?  Have you made your voices heard?  Your dues as a member group of the NFIB are contributing to the ability of the NFIB to continue to lobby against us and to continue to support the notion that painful taxation of consumers who own property is a good thing, even though that pain results in less revenue to those homeowners which translates into less money to spend at your business.

I am pro-business and pro-consumer.  I don’t think that a free-market system can exist where taxation on either has to be painful.  I especially am opposed to such taxation to support a system that is not producing the results that the amount of money we are spending on it should produce.

Frankly, Mr Hudak, I find this statement to be not only offensive but totally out of character for you.  I get that when citizens feel the pain they get out and do something about it but to suggest that this is necessary or a good thing to those suffering is to say that the Holocaust was a good thing because it caused people pain; that slavery could be justified because of the pain that can be caused.  It stands in opposition to everything our founders intended for this nation under a constitutional rule of law and I know that you know better than that.

Recently there was an uproar about a certain poster even though that poster implied no  violence towards anyone but suggested using the ballot box to remove legislators who were supporting a tax which can unjustly seize the property of individuals in this state.  Now a lobbyist has suggested that we, the common citizen and property owners should be in pain in our taxation and that this is a good thing….that is a very real threat to the safety and security of every law abiding citizen in this state who owns property but through no fault of their own is in the process of being taxed out of their property.  It is a threat that states that our pain is good and if there are those whose pain goes so far as to result in losing their very home than so be it.  Where is the media outcry about that threat?

Inflicting painful taxation is a way to make people fear their government.  The entire institution and stability of the property tax is built around that sort of pain and fear.  People will do without proper food and medication for fear of losing their homes and anyone who supports this method of taxation would agree with Mr Hudak, I’m sure.  Every time somebody says that Property Taxes are stable they are saying, in kinder and gentler words, the very same thing Mr Hudak proclaimed.  At least Mr Hudak had the decency to say it honestly…sort of like when Michael Wood said that 10,000 people losing their homes each year is not reason enough to do something about the property tax.  I may think it’s horrible but at least they honestly said out loud the thing that others hide behind when they talk about the stability of the property tax.

I know of several grandparents who have told me the pain of stopping family gatherings during the holiday seasons of Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas because they could no longer afford it because of the property tax, nor could they afford to travel to their family to be with them during the holidays.  That’s the pain Mr Hudak is talking about.  I know of others who have sold their homes, not because they wanted to but because their taxes exceeded their ability to pay, That’s more of Mr. Hudak’s pain.   I  have talked to farmers who agreed to Clean And Green against their will but it was the only way they could keep the family farm and afford the extortion of the property tax.  In each case these people made a choice but it is a false choice because it is one forced upon them, against their will to justify a system of taxation that seizes property and sells it at auction for a fraction of its worth.  You see all of this redistributive pain…pushing the pain onto a smaller and smaller class of citizens in this state for the benefit of others who will benefit from that pain, not only by escaping from it but by profits made from it.  Have we ever questioned how much the newspaper industry makes each year posting page after page of delinquent tax properties?  Could that be part of the reason they oppose us?

How much money is made by lawyers because of the countless property tax appeals?  Could that be the real reason why the Bar Association opposes us?

We already know why the State School Board opposes us even though many local school boards have come on board.  They want to control the amount of pain they levy on the taxpayer.

All of that is profiteering from our pain.  Is this what Mr. Hudak wants to see continue and is any of that in the best interest of supporting the free-market capitalist principles Mr Hudak claims to support?

It is long past time for us to look beyond the excuses being made by the opposition and to start asking the real serious questions related to their opposition.  Do they profit from the property tax at our expense and if so, then that makes them unqualified to oppose us on this legislation.  Taxation is only supposed to be for the necessary function of government.  It’s not supposed to be to empower institutions to profit from the pain of the constituents.

Now I’m sure that there will be those who will seek to justify Mr Hudak statement by saying that the pain of the property tax is a good thing because it’s gotten people engaged in the process.  I would remind those who would say this that Mr Hudak was defending the property tax and opposing SB 76.   He stated that Property Tax isn’t the problem and had his laundry list of other issues that had to be resolved and that somehow this would fix the property tax problem.

In my opinion none of those issues will ever be properly addressed until the State has to account for the spending through the state budget.  As long as they can push taxation down to the local level to support these special interest driven mandates and regulations and essentially be held unaccountable for it the things My Hudak wants to see, it will not happen.  I actually agree with Mr Hudak that every one of those things are a problem.  My experience has shown that the state legislators won’t tackle those problems until they have to pay for them.  HB/SB 76 is going to finally make that happen.


The Irony of Opposing the Gas Tax while opposing Property Tax Elimination

People seem to be coming out of the woodwork to talk about the economic  impact in the state to add an additional 25 cents over the next five year (5 cents a year) to pay for necessary infrastructure repairs in the state.  I understand the frustration but it really gets under my skin when many of the groups in an outrage over the gas tax are working hard to oppose HB/SB 76 which would free homeowners from the crushing  school property tax.

Let’s look at some real numbers assuming the $0.25 that seems to have so many in an uproar is the actual cost to be realized by the residents of the state.  According to the Federal Highway Administration the average miles per year driven by Americans in 13,476.  According to a study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the average  MPG use is now 24.9.  Taking the average miles per year and dividing that by the miles per gallon tells us that the average consumer uses  541.2 gallons of gas per year.   Now the 0.25 increase will be applied incrementally over the next 5 years but even if we were hit with it all at once this translates into an increase of $135.3.

Only those who actually drive on the roads will be the ones paying this tax.  If you don’t drive, you don’t pay.  If you don’t make use of the roads and bridges, you don’t pay.  The less you drive, the less you pay.

Now let’s contrast this to the school property tax.  First of all I’d be willing to wager that for many Pennsylvanians their property tax has increased more than $135.3 over the last five years and will most certainly increase far more than that in the next five as the pension fiasco begin to hit home.  Yet all the furor from groups talking about the devastating  impact of the gas tax while they oppose HB/SB 76 seems incredibly hypocritical to me.  This is especially true when you consider the number of people paying the school property tax who do not have children in school.  Where the gas tax will be paid by people who actually make use of the roads, the same isn’t true of the school property tax.

If you put new tires on your vehicle, if you paint your vehicle…you won’t pay more in the gas tax because of improvements to your vehicle.  Actually some of the improvements will actually increase your MPG rates and you could actually pay slightly less.  That will NEVER happen with the school property tax.  New windows to make your home more energy efficient means a new assessment and higher taxes   New Roof or new siding to also make your home more energy efficient and another new assessment and even higher taxes……whether you have ever had children in the public schools or not.  When it comes to the School Property Tax, use doesn’t matter…you pay for the schools because you own property.

We’ve also heard a lot about the impact of the gas cost on the working poor.  Over the last several years we’ve watched rent increasing because of the property tax while the roles of those living in Section 8 or subsidized housing increases.  That means higher taxes from others to provide the Section 8 and subsidized housing that has increased, in part, because of the increasing property tax.  It makes those homes for the poor cost more in rent and then raises the taxes on everyone else to provide the relief to the working poor.  You can’t even remotely find an analogy with the gas tax and the property tax in this realm. Those who drive more will pay more.  Those who drive less will pay less.  Those who don’t drive at all pay nothing.  You don’t pay more because of the size or cost of your vehicle, you pay based on how much gas you use while you drive on the states highways and bridges.  You also aren’t going to pay higher taxes at the pump to provide for tax incentives, rebates and subsidies for other individuals.  Finally you won’t pay the gas tax even if you don’t drive to provide for gas of others who do.

It’s true that higher fuel costs mean higher prices for goods and services.  It’s also true that ever increasing property taxes does exactly the same thing.  So why are higher fuel cost bad, but runaway school taxes okay to these groups who oppose HB/SB 76?  Isn’t it hypocritical to raise such a fuss about the gas tax but to fight against real relief to property owners which has a much more devastating impact on lower income families and the elderly.

The Median Pennsylvania property tax is supposed to be around $2223.00 (although most people I know seem to pay much more than this and that number is created by northern counties where property taxes are much lower because of state funding related to declining populations but let’s go with that).  With the school tax being, on average, 2/3 of that tax that would mean that the median school tax is $1482.  In order to spend that same amount in a tax to help pay for roads that people who drive use every day you would have to purchase 5,928 gallons of gas or drive 147,607 miles per year to spend as much as you’ll be spending on this gas tax.  If you are spending more than the average on your taxes, those numbers only go up regardless of your having children in schools or not.   So again, why all the uproar over the gas tax coupled with such strong opposition to HB/SB 76?

Now I am willing to applaud those opposing the gas tax while fighting for property tax elimination but I can’t seem to abide by those who are screaming about the gas tax while doing all they can to oppose property tax independence.  It’s simply hypocrisy.

I’m also not willing to attack legislators who have worked to pass the gas tax putting the cost on actual users to pay for long neglected bridge and other infrastructure repairs if those legislators are also fighting for Property Tax Elimination and here’s why.

Taxes are a necessary part of government.  Those taxes should, however, only be collected for the necessary functions of government and safe highways are, in my opinion, a necessary function of government.   Bridges with serious structure issues and unsafe roads are the result of a governing body which has been irresponsible to its citizens.  We can argue all we want about where the money to pay for these necessary infrastructure repairs should come from but the debate on the responsibility to provide safe roads is clearly with the government.  Frankly, asking those who actually use the roads to pay for this through a use tax is not, again in my opinion, unreasonable.

Pennsylvania is already a terrible place to do business and unsafe bridges and roads will do nothing to attract new business to move here.  To those who want every type of taxation on the business industry and then wonder why more businesses leave the state than move here….get a clue!  At the same time, I’m all for breaking the overbearing regulations on business and making Pennsylvania a more tax friendly business state but I’m not for it if it means I have to sacrifice my home to ridiculous taxes to provide the business community with those breaks.  There has to be a partnership between the consumer and the businesses which provides the goods and services.  After all, tax me until I can barely stay in my home and I can’t afford to shop through your business.  Stand by while they take away my discretionary spending and you destroy your own business.

It can also be argued the education is the responsibility of our state government.  Certainly our Commonwealth Constitution argues that point but then we must ask ourself why such a great burden of this funding is derived from those who make no use of the public school system.  What about parents who opt for alternate education through private or parochial schools…Why must they pay for the public school?  What about the young couple who still have no children and are just getting started in life?  Why are they paying a school tax?  Then there is the elderly whose children have gone out and started their own families?  Lastly we must ask ourself why education funding is only the responsibility of those who own property?

For those who own property it becomes the sole obligation to provide education funding for the school tax regardless of use.     For those who don’t own property, while they may indirectly pay the property tax through higher rents,  the real burden is on the property owner.  If the tenant doesn’t pay their rent it can take several months for a landlord to evict the tenant and during that time nothing goes towards the property tax associated with the rent.  The Landlord, through no fault of their own, now risks losing the property as the government tax masters come collecting.

Finally, the tax applied to gas to repair roads and bridges has minimal impact of collection cost.  This is not true with the collection of property taxes.  A family falling on hard times results in a series of costs to the government in the collection of those taxes.  Worse yet, it requires a very expensive assessment/reassessment process to keep the tax equal and even when followed rigidly (and it most cases it is not) it always fails miserably in that equal taxation to the same class of citizens.

It can be repeatedly argued that the property tax is unconstitutional, especially when it comes to the school property tax.  No matter how you spin it, a tax to pay for the roads we use every day applied to everyone who uses those roads isn’t unconstitutional.

This year my school property taxes, like many others in this state, went up once again.  The newspapers claimed this will cost me an additional 70-75 dollars a year.  That has to be added to the additional 70 dollars from last year.  Every increase in the future will only add to this burden and I’d like to know where the groups screaming about the gas tax are when this happens.  Where is the outcry for the homeowners who are losing their homes?  Where is the outcry for the young couple just starting out who are denied the path to home ownership because the taxes are too high?  Where is the outcry about the inflated costs of goods and services because we have a property tax to begin with?  Where is the outcry about the cost associated with maintaining this tax that only makes the property tax go higher?

When it comes to this, maybe I could handle the silence if it was actually silence but we now have a bill to end this egregious and discriminatory tax, and it isn’t silence…it is vocal and active opposition and its really makes we wonder who these groups really represent.  How can they claim that their outrage about the gas tax is based on the cost to the people when they are doing all they can to fight the school property tax elimination bill?  To me it should be obvious they don’t really care about the people and any claims that the outcry on the gas tax is about the people has to be….plain and simply…bullshit!

Yes, an additional $135 a year will have an impact.  It may result in less driving.  It might cut back on a vacation.  It might inconvenience some.  We should have that discussion.

In the meantime another 10,000 people actually lost their homes this year because they couldn’t pay for the property taxes.  The state is over 1 billion in property tax related debt connected to unpaid property taxes.  Every one of these people is a potential family at risk of losing their home.  Don’t tell me you care about the people because it might crimp your vacation while you sit back and watch the thousands losing their homes each year.  It’s not very becoming and it is, in my opinion, incredibly transparent.

By the way, if we enacted HB/SB 76 the boon to economic growth would be such that the gas tax wouldn’t have been necessary.  New job creation and new income generated through sales and income tax as well as making the state more attractive to outside business would have generated the revenue necessary to fund the roads.  Your opposition to HB/SB 76 is, whether you want to admit this or not, responsible in part for the need for the gas tax increase.

We have a lot of problems that need real solutions.  Just bitching and complaining…opposing everything without offering solutions does nothing.  You simply become a loud distraction making a lot of noise but accomplishing nothing.  Haven’t we all had enough of that?