Is the PA Property Tax crisis because we’re buying TOO MUCH house?

During the opposition objections in the Senate Caucus we are told that some legislators cried that the reason people are losing their homes is because they bought too much house.  We’ve heard this scream before and its ironic because we’re talking about many who loose their homes in below the median income HOUSEHOLD levels including seniors and families.  The word HOUSEHOLD is capitalized for good reason.

Let’s begin by understanding that the median HOUSEHOLD income in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is $52,548 according to the U.C. Census Data.  Median income is the amount that divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount.  In other words, half of the households in Pennsylvania earn $52,548 or less.

The Legislators that are screaming about people buying too much house earn $85,338.65 INDIVIDUALLY.  That’s not their HOUSEHOLD income….that’s how much they earn according to ballotpedia.  They also qualify for a per diem of $159 per day.  That already makes them among the highest paid legislators in the entire United States.  Only legislators in California earn more.  But wait, they also have their Rolls Royce pension and healthcare packages, benefits that few in the private sector can even dare dream about.

So a legislator who earns $32 thousand dollars more INDIVIDUALLY than most households earn in a year and then can pick up per diem’s with uber-lush pension and healthcare has the nerve to claim that seniors and families earning far less than them each year bought too much house.

Exactly what do they mean by such a statement?  I don’t really know but the thought that they could say something so cold and callous alarms me.  Does Grandma and Grandpa, who bought their homes decades ago, finally paid for it in full and can no longer afford to keep up with the demands of the government and the public sector…no mortgage, just taxes…are they guilty of having too much home because it once housed their children and those rooms are not currently being occupied?

Of course this claim also ignores the many young families who would love to enter the world of home ownership instead living their lives in rental servitude but can’t simply because the property taxes prevent them from making that first step.  Apparently these cold and calculating legislators who would dare make such a claim think the taxpayers of this state are here for their comfort and joy at our expense.  Yet these legislators claim to represent us.

Ballotpedia also tells us that according to 2008 U.S. Census data, the state of Pennsylvania and local governments in the state employed a total of 696,616 people. Of those employees, 529,454 were full-time employees receiving net pay of $2,152,542,653 per month and 167,162 were part-time employees paid $178,554,748 per month. More than 57% of those employees, or 399,454 employees, were in education or higher education.

Let’s break that down.  For full time employees we are talking about earning an average of $48.8 thousand a year INDIVIDUALLY.  That’s not HOUSEHOLD income, that’s INDIVIDUAL income.  Individually they earn wages almost equivalent to the median HOUSEHOLD incomes.

A Report from Keystone Crossroads tells us the average starting salary for a teacher in Pennsylvania as of the 2012-2013 school year was $41,901. The average starting teacher salary for the entire country that year was $36,141. Nationally, that number puts the state ninth for highest starting teacher pay, behind Alaska, California, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Wyoming.

Once again we are talking about INDIVIDUAL income, not HOUSEHOLD income.  Remember this is also the average starting salary.  Those wages will increase as the teachers receive seniority.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released salary information that indicated the salary levels of elementary, middle school, and secondary teachers across Pennsylvania. As of May 2010, all three earned average salaries between $53,000 per year and $59,000 per year.  This figure does not include their pensions.

The state administers two separate pension systems.

The State Employees’ Retirement System (SERS) manages the fund for state employees. The Public School Employees’ Retirement System (PSERS) manages the fund for all public school educators and staff members.

Both systems use a formula that takes into account the employee’s length of service, age, compensation and a legislatively determined contribution rate.

PSERS is funded through three sources: employee contributions, district contributions and investment returns. Employees are expected to give an average of 7.4 percent of their salary. Lawmakers set school district contributions at 21.4 percent of their payroll this year. That rate has been increasing each year since 2002. The state reimburses districts for about half of their pension costs.

SERS also is funded through three sources: employee contributions, state contributions and investment returns. Most workers contribute 10 percent per paycheck while about 14 percent is paid by state agencies or branches of government.

All of this money is coming from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and half of the households in the Commonwealth are being royally screwed while being told that the reason we are seeing foreclosure, bankruptcy and tax seized homes increasing is because we bought too much house, not because we’re being robbed blind.

To continue to think that households who can’t afford to provide these ultra-plush pensions and healthcare schemes for public sector employees when the majority of taxpayers can’t do the same for themselves adds only injury to the insult that the problem is because our houses are too big.

As an individual how has been in various parts of the state to talk about School Property Tax Elimination this claim that people have too much home is really irritating to me.   The number of small and modest city homes I’ve seen empty, foreclosed, abandoned or in the process of being seized for taxes….homes that sometimes sell for less than these legislators and public sector employees earn in a year is beyond egregious.  It’s outright immoral.

This isn’t a problem just for homeowners but for renters as well.  As a city resident I’ve seen more than my share of renters coming in to a rented city home and then, after the property tax increases driving up their rent these renters scramble out of their homes looking for someplace else more affordable to live.  That creates a transient classroom population in our schools which only adds to the financial burdens of education….but hey, maybe that because these renters are also renting too much home.  Homes that these renters would love to buy, homes that would sell for less than the annual income of the average public sector employee, but there’s that property tax that keeps home ownership for them and a more stable community for all of us out our reach.

What about family farms that were inherited?  Do they deserve to loose their farms to the taxman because the school district or some smart-aleck Senators thinks they inherited too much house.  How dare their parents not anticipate runaway education spending and endless unfunded mandates that would rip this family legacies from the hands of their children?

The statement is repulsive and for it to come out of the mouth of any legislator at any level of government demonstrates how far we’ve come from understanding that is the Government’s responsibility to protect our right to be secure in our homes….an oath they have taken to uphold.  They should be ashamed of themselves for making such a statement!

 

I, for one, am sick and tired of hearing all the excuses from the lobbyists and the Public Sector concerning the Property Tax Crisis in this state  (and yes, 10,000 people losing their homes due to tax seizures and thousands more due to foreclosure and bankruptcy makes it a crisis).  The do little to nothing attitude that has prevailed with the phony relief schemes that are eaten away as soon as the school districts hear a little extra jingle in our pockets is a system of taxation that has become so abused and so corrupted the only option is to eliminate the tax and find a different way to fund education.  The Senate had that chance and because of legislators who think the problem is because you bought too much house, the measure was defeated.

That doesn’t mean we’re going away.  That only means we are more determined then ever to hold on to what is rightfully ours and tells those opposing legislators…How Dare you?

How dare you tell me my house is too big because I can’t afford to pay the taxes on it, taxes that exceed my mortgage payments?  How dare you!!!!!

You apparently won’t be happy until we’re all in neat little pack and stack mini homes while you continuing to live of our very lifeblood.  Welcome to Serfdom 2016 at the hands of our government oppressors where taxation is now a license to steal..

TOO MUCH HOUSE!!!!   You’re disgusting!  You don’t know how the other half lives in this state and you also apparently don’t care.  Its time for you to start making the sacrifices that you demand from us.  Start by cutting your salaries to bring you more in alignment to the private sector.  Stop expecting all of us to provide you with pensions and benefits we can’t give to our own families.  And, if not’s too much to ask, start representing us by not insulting us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No more excuses: The Property Tax created this mess!

If you went to the doctor with symptoms of cancer and all your doctor did was keep prescribing Tylenol to manage the pain, how long would you keep going back to that doctor?

After reading Senator Scott Wagner’s post following the vote on SB76 last Monday evening I have to tell you all that I can’t help but feel he’s buying into the Tylenol mentality without the emphasis on the actual disease.

Property Tax is the disease and the School Property Tax Elimination is the major step in curing the disease.  As with any disease there are symptoms but the symptoms are not the actual disease.  They are the result of the disease.  You certainly want to treat the symptoms but without curing the disease those symptoms or others will just keep coming back.   In fact, prescribing a painkiller instead of treating the actual disease can actually further aggravate the disease while creating new problems.

We have 350,000 abandoned properties in the Commonwealth.  10,000 people uprooted by property seizures each year and those numbers are growing.  Thousands more are impacted by foreclosures and bankruptcy.  For over a decade we have been treating symptoms by providing artificial relief while ignoring the root cause of the problem.  In treating those symptoms, things have gotten worse even to the point of a growing number of people in this Commonwealth leaving the state to find the cure to the property tax malady.

One of the fixes was the creating of the KOZ’s (Keystone Opportunity Zones).  This provided business with a tax exempt status, mostly related to blighted properties and we know they work as long as the tax exempt status remains but as soon as the tax exemption is lifted many of the businesses move somewhere else.  The revenue that was supposed to be generated by property tax to local schools and communities from these KOZ’s is picked up by everyone else allegedly as an investment in the future.  Unfortunately far more times than not there is no return on that investment.  The state however is still picking up the PIT tax from the employees.  The county, municipal and school district still gets their revenue by spreading it around on everyone else so who is the loser?  The answer should be obvious, the homeowners are the losers.  They pay more so others don’t have to and when the time comes that should bring some form of property tax relief to the homeowner, the business is gone and so is the supposed investment made by the people.

When the doors close on that business, the tax burden doesn’t decrease.  It continues and increases.  The supposed reason for the exemption through a KOZ is to create jobs in our communities which should grow the tax base but that’s not what we seeing, at least not permanently.  It’s a temporary fix that places more financial burden on  others who may actually lose their home due to the increases to pick up that burden.

The countless exemptions and relief offered by the state through their programs isn’t really helping the average homeowners.  School Property Tax increases continue to out pace the relief so once again we get a temporary solution that isn’t addressing the actual problem.

Instead of helping the sad state of affairs of business and the economy of this state its made things worse.

The Property Tax is at the root of the problem.  Yes I realize that the pension debacle, prevailing wage, healthcare costs and other unfunded mandates have come down from the state and it’s possible that we could give it a Tylenol Fix to temporarily ease the pain but when do they ask the real question.  What enabled these things to become the problem they have become?

During the House hearings on HB 76 Rep. Eli Evankovich asked if we eliminate the school property tax, how will we pay for the pensions.  Putting that in a context the we can all understand he’s really saying that without the property tax, the state would have to deal with the problem they created.  With the property tax they can just keep passing the burden down to homeowners.  When the legislative body body kicks the can down the road, that a kick in out butt!

The fact of the matter is that taxation from any form of government has to exist within the means of the people to pay that tax.  A PIT and Sales tax does just that.  Both taxes are one time taxes based on new income and new purchases.  The Property Tax isn’t based on an individuals ability to pay.  It is based on assumed estimate of a home’s worth determined by flawed calculations that, in every county-wide assessment, continues to prove how flawed this system is in evaluating home worth.

We’ve heard the naysayers use the excuse that the reason for the loss of homes is that people bought too much home.  Simple question here:  If a business can’t afford to pay the property taxes on that business, aren’t they buying too much business?  Why do we exempt them through KOZ’s but when it comes to homeowners this lame excuse is thrown around.

In a down economic time, people see income loss through less hours or even being laid-off.  That reduces PIT income as well as Sales Tax income.  In these times however the school property taxes have actually increased only making recovery harder for the homeowners and thereby making it harder for the state to recover.  Even though home values decrease during these times, the school districts just raise the millage rates instead of adjusting the tax to reflect ability to pay, the burden is increased.   They reject ability to pay and they do so because they can.  They do so because of the way the property tax works.  Its the Property Tax that is the problem.

Frankly, without the property tax, especially the school property tax, I strongly doubt we would have seen the pension expansion, the ridiculous prevailing wage laws or even entertaining the notions that tax-payers should be paying taxes to allow the school districts and not the unions to collect union dues.

On Monday night November 23, 1/2 of The Senate voted to uphold the status quo of pursuing Tylenol solutions to a disease that has infested the Commonwealth.   The talking points of the opposition used the misrepresentation of the talking points of the powerful conservative and progressive lobbyists in the Commonwealth and we might all be asking why.

Lobbying is a lucrative business and they aren’t really interested in finding solutions.  Putting band-aids on the problem is job security for them.  If the problem is actually solved what is there to lobby for.   All too often they exist to create distractions for us all to keep us from getting to actual solutions to problem and the more powerful the lobbying efforts, the less we, as a people, seem to see accomplished.  All too often when a solution is on the horizon to a specific problem, the lobbyists will stir up a dust storm to distract us away from remaining focused on staying the course.

Throughout the debate on Property Tax Elimination a myriad of outside and peripheral problems has remained the focus while not talking about what is really happening in this Commonwealth.  We have a Constitutionally protected right to be secure in our homes and that can only happen when taxation is based on ability to pay, not on somebody’s guess of assumed wealth because of a house.    It spits in the face of the American Dream of Homeowners to create an instability for a large number of Pennsylvanians to provide security for a smaller number and no matter how you spin that….its tyranny.  It’s feudalism of a system of serfs and lord where the serfs are little more than collateral damage to satisfy the wants of the lords.  1/2 of the Senate agreed to perpetuate that system.

It seems then that Pennsylvanians have a choice to make.   We can keep going to the same doctors and getting the Tylenol Fix or we can change doctors.  There’s only two ways to do that and one is to move to another state.  Many who can afford to do so will, just as they have been doing in the past.

The other option is to take this to the ballot box.  If they voted to maintain the status quo they voted to keep you as a serf in their feudalistic world.  If you keep them in office, you have only yourself to blame but your unwillingness to change the status quo makes the rest of us in this state suffer.

In my opinion, its time to change doctors.  Actually, its long past time.   I prefer the ousting of seated legislators who would rather read the lobbyist talking points than engage in a discussion with their own constituents about the problems they face and lets admit it to ourselves:  If our legislators aren’t holding townhalls where they take questions from us to hear our concerns, they aren’t representing us, regardless of what they tell us on the campaign trail.   If they are  more concerned with entertaining the Country Club Friends or attending lobbyist fundraising efforts that the average citizen in the Commonwealth can’t afford it is impossible for them to represent you.

We have a responsibility to become more engaged and we have a responsibility to tell the incumbent who looks at Pennsylvania taxpayers as collateral damage to a flawed system of taxation where to go, and that means someplace other than returning to their legislative office.

The Property tax created the mess that others claim to want to fix through Tylenol solutions to maintain their job security.  Its time for all of us to tell them that unless they are working to cure the disease, they are in the way and its time for them to move on.

If you really want to see prevailing wage reform, paycheck protection, a real pension fix, and finally fixing the unfair 1991 funding formula there’s only one way to force those issues to be solved instead of being band-aided to death…..Eliminate the School Property Tax, restore security to homeowners and the rest will follow because the Property Tax is no longer there to feed the disease.

Let’s also understand that this is not a Democrat vs Republican issue.  People in both parties are falling victim to the failed tax policies of this state.  This isn’t the left vs the right.   This is an empire that enables unethical practices made legal by a corrupted system that ignores their responsibility to ensure the protected right espoused in our Commonwealth Constitution.  Both Republicans and Democrats have violated their oath of office.  In doing so they are dancing on the backs of the people while being entertained by the campaign funding lobbying machines.  It’s time to give any legislator who prefers that lifestyle over standing up for the people in this Commonwealth a pink slip.

 

 

Budget Proposal seeks to Steal SB76 Funding Mechanism

Since the start of the budget debacle in Harrisburg attempts have been made to use the budget to kill funding mechanisms of SB 76.  The latest proposal is the most blatantly hypocritical.

According to a posting on Senator Pat Stefano’s Facebook Page which reads:

Details are still scarce but it looks like a budget will be voted on next week that will include pension reform and liquor reform. Though both proposals are not perfect they seem to be steps in the right direction.

It also appears that there will some sort of changes to what the sales tax applies to, though details are not yet confirmed here.

Some calls were made and this information seems to be confirmed.

The pension reform package being discussed is something similar to the previous hybrid plan which, while better than what we currently have, fails to offer any real substantive relief from the pension burden which is only going to continue to drive up the cost of the school property tax.

The push for the privatization of the liquor industry is something the GOP has wanted and while I agree with the concept in principal, we don’t want to see something that will kill all the family owned distributors in the state to give advantages to corporate chain stores.

The discussion on the expansion of the sales tax has me the most concerned because it steals one of the funding legs of SB 76.   Without expanding the sales tax, the revenue needed to replace the sales tax would require a 6% PIT tax which will be a much harder sell than the current 4.95%.

In reviewing the needed revenue for SB76 because of the endless excuses and delays with this legislation in just one year we have had to take the PIT from the 4.34 PIT up to 4.95.   The longer we wait the more we’ll need.

Our opponents, both legislative and lobbyists, have used the expansion of the sales tax in SB 76 as one of their main talking points.   Our supporters , at least legislatively, should know that the sales tax expansion is one of the key funding mechanisms of the bill.  So you would think that proposing expanding the sales, not as a tax shift but just as a tax increase, would have legislators and lobbyists up in arms whether they supported SB76 or not and yet its relatively quiet on that front with barely a whimper.

You would think with all the opposition based on the sales tax expansion, this would be a dead deal since opponents wouldn’t vote for it, nor should supporters of 76.   That isn’t what we’re hearing though.

This begs the question, was the expansion really as big a problem as our opponents claimed or was it just their excuse in order to protect the status quo with public sector unions while driving increasing numbers of families and seniors from their homes while preventing younger families from making that important first step into home ownership.

Apparently it’s suddenly okay to expand the sales tax to increase the tax burden without eliminating another tax.

Jake Corman had reported that Property Tax relief isn’t off the table but it would have to wait until after the budget was passed.  Hidden in that statement, now that we know more of what the budget deal involves, is the fact that the fight will be for some form of temporary relief (which is nothing more than a disguised tax increase since school taxes will continue to exceed the Consumer Price Index).  By expanding the sales tax, the attempt is being made to stop the progress made on elimination.

We’re told that Kim Ward, a long-time cosponsor of SB76 who bailed the week before the vote was to be taken, became one of the most vocal opponents in the GOP caucus.  Since nothing had really substantially changed when she withdrew her support (the PIT increase came later) it begs the question, how could she support the bill for as long as she did and then when hearing it was coming up for a vote suddenly find the bill repulsive?   She wasn’t alone.  Was the talk of School Property Tax Elimination just a re-election ruse?

Just as we saw HB76 sabotaged by leadership in the house, we saw the same thing happening in the Senate.  Caving to lobbyist pressure that often resorted to misleading talking points, talking points mirrored by our opposition the night of the vote, once again the working families are being asked to bear the greater burden to protect public sector unions and their own legislative pensions and perks.

There should be a cleansweep type anger in this state and amid SB76 supporters.  We should be outraged at the relative silence from lobbyists from this legislative attempt to steal one of the funding legs of SB76 to provide the first real substantive bill in a very long time that actually would have provided real relief from the tax burden felt by working families in this commonwealth.  We however, continue to be the collateral damage of tax policies intended to help the entitlement mentality of both Public and Corporate welfare.

Consider that the Philadelphia School district managed to find 6 million that was supposed to be targeted for healthcare after collecting that money from taxes from the general public and then offer that 6 million as a loan to the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers.  That loan, according to a report from PA Independent, was interest free with no real defined terms for repayment.  The Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers (PFT) main office is located in Philadelphia but a satellite office was also provided to them free of charge by the Philadelphia school district.  Nothing is free. They are provided their Union Satellite Office on the dime of tax payers even though the Philadelphia School district is operating with a deficit of 80 million as of last year.  While there is nothing illegal about this, it smells of being unethical.  Imagine collecting taxes to refurbish union offices that come at the expense of working families losing their homes.

Why aren’t the teachers out in the streets screaming that it’s all about the children over what their unions just did to money that was collected from taxpayers to be used for their healthcare?

This should come as no surprise to any of us since the pension debacle created by our legislators is doing the same thing and far too many legislators just don’t seem to care enough to do anything about it.

We can sit back and just let it happen but then we aren’t any different from those legislators who view us a being nothing more than collateral damage and then we only have ourselves to blame.  Or we can do something about it.  If you are willing to stand up because you’ve had enough then its time to contact your legislators and express your outrage at opponents of 76 who would vote for this budget proposal as well as alleged supporters of 76 who would allow one of the funding legs of the elimination bill to be stolen from us.  That means no one gets a pass.

You can’t expect somebody else to do this for you.  It doesn’t work that way.  A government established through the “Consent of the governed” operates through letting legislators know what we do not consent to.  Silence is consent.   Complaining to your friends and spouse or through social media can help spread the word but without picking up the phone and calling your legislators you passively consent to egregious actions in this Commonwealth against the working families in this Commonwealth.   Screaming at the local talk shows on the radio or at the news reports on television may help with your frustration but until you pick up the phone or schedule an appointment with your legislator, you are still consenting to these attacks on us by the very government we elect to represent us.

You have a right to be angry and you have a right to express that anger.   At this point we should all be outraged.  Don’t let the lobbyists and legislators continue to use us as collateral damage to their oppressive taxes.  Stand up and be counted among those who are saying “WE THE PEOPLE NO LONGER CONSENT!”

People losing their homes is no laughing matter!

Since the vote on Monday evening there’s been a lot of arm-chair quarter-backing on what happened on the School Property Tax Elimination vote.  Much of what I’m reading is misdirected anger with so many looking for people to blame. That’s fine so long as the right people are being nailed but some of what’s being posted isn’t doing that.

This was not a failing of parties but of individuals in both parties.  It’s not exclusively the Democrats fault and its not the Republicans fault.  Individuals in both parties bear blame for this.  At the same time, individuals in both parties should be acknowledged for the work they did in advancing this legislation against extraordinary pressure from the campaign-funding lobbyists who fill the halls of the Capitol.

Again, it wasn’t a left or right lobbyist paradigm that was responsible for the misinformation to legislators on this bill.  Both sides of the lobbying effort developed their own talking points and they hit hard.  The PSEA and PA Budget and Policy Center were strong voices in opposition representing the public sector unions.  While we’ve been told that Americans For Prosperity was taking a neutral stance on this but our sources inside tell us a very different story.  And that’s from multiple sources, not one or two individuals.  The Commonwealth Foundation also claimed a neutral position but Matt Brouilette, when appearing on radio talk shows, never even remotely attempted to reflect that neutral position.

While we are constantly told that lobbyists have no real “undue” influence you have to ask yourself why a lobbying firm like Greenlee Partners would pay $10,000 per month to lobby the Pennsylvania General Assembly on behalf of the government of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania according to the Pennsylvania Lobbyist Database from 2009 and Brad Bumstead in an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review dated November 29, 2009.  Greenlee Partners has been identified as “one of the capital’s most visible lobbying firms” by the Philadelphia Inquirer (Dilanian, Ken (October 4, 1998). “Takeover Fight Grabs Spotlight.”.)

I was at the Capitol on the day of the vote to attend internal meetings regarding the legislation along with Ron Boltz and Dean Klopp.  David Baldinger would have been there with us but his health prevented it.

The paid lobbyists were there as well.  The Capitol Rotunda was crawling with them.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve witnessed this debacle in the Capitol Complex so I was very happy that other grassroots citizens were there with Ron, Dean and I to see it as well.   The influence is definitely there but its there because of the legislators who allow it to be there and fight against the necessary lobbyist reforms needed to help get Pennsylvania off the top 10 most corrupt government lists.

That influence doesn’t excuse the legislators who repeated these talking points and regardless of how ticked off this makes you, those of you who followed this closely know that many of the opposing legislators never took the time to read the bill or to understand the actual mechanics of the legislation.  Their talking points may have come from the lobbyists, but legislators who parroted those points had a responsibility to read and know this legislation, especially on such an important issue.

There were legislators that we never got to come on a co-sponsors.  Others had confirmed their support for the legislation telling the people contacting their offices that they would support it.  One co-sponsor decided not to show up and as we work to confirm the details of why, you may find yourself even more angry at what is going on. There were 25 no votes on this legislation, 19 of them hadn’t claimed support of SB 76.  It’s okay to be ticked at those 19 but you should have been just as angry before the vote….you should have been out there then.

The five names to remember in this vote are Senators Blake, Corman, McGarrigle, Fontana and Ward because they all claimed support for the legislation at some level.

The snickering antics of the Lt. Governor Stack should also be burned into your memory.  If it isn’t…..here’s a reminder:

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While this visual of the smirk and giggle that followed the no vote should anger us realize this….that attitude is a visual symbol of EVERY no vote made that night.  People losing their homes in order to protect the perks granted to campaign funding special interests is not a laughing matter.

From what we’ve heard the opponents went viral during the caucus in both parties before this vote.  I know this is hearsay but the information comes from multiple sources and I have no reason to doubt it especially since individuals who rose to speak in opposition to the legislation mirrored the things I was told took place in that room.

When we went to the vote we had every reason to believe that we had this vote.  The numbers were there.  The problem was that we were not told the truth.  To read attacks for running the bill when we didn’t have the votes is ridiculous.  Its part of that misplaced anger.  What are we supposed to do, refuse to accept the acknowledgment of a yes vote unless the legislator is attached to a lie detector?

Like many of you, I didn’t trust Corman’s supposed support.  Ron Boltz and I met with a member of his staff  before the vote who was a bit indignant that we and others had questioned the Senator’s support support.  We explained why we questioned that support and we were assured that he supported the legislation.   On the day of the vote, Corman voted no.  Can any of us trust his word as being reliable in the  future?   I don’t think so which is a sad statement considering that Corman is the Majority leader in the Senate.  If you can’t trust the leadership….if leadership is willing to betray the people for whatever reasons, can you trust the party?

The Legislators were forewarned.  This issue is not like others issues.  The people were following this closely.  They’ve watched hearings, videos of town halls, and followed the statements and votes of the legislators on this issue.  They watched the night of that vote and they aren’t happy. The anger in the social media is at viral levels with promises to take this to the campaign trail.  14 of the 24 no votes have elections next year.

Regardless of all the attempts by the opposition to wear us down, of the attempts to silence us and the failure of the media to give this the attention it deserves….the grassroots kept driving this issue, the grassroots kept this issue in the forefront.  It was the mobilization of the grassroots that made Property Tax the center of the budget debate.  It was the mobilization of the grassroots that got this vote.  Without major funding PACS and on their own dimes they organized town halls, took this out of the meeting halls and into the streets  and managed to fund two billboards in Harrisburg from the small contributions of individuals.  This debate on this issue is not over yet and it won’t be until we, the membership of the PTCC, says its over.  There too much at stake here….we are after all, talking about the seizure of people’s homes here….something that our opposition and even some of our supporters seem to forget.

Fortunately we have fighters inside the Senate who are willing to fight alongside us.  Fortunately for us we already have a base of support in the legislative body.  That support is in both the Senate and the House.

This bill can come back in the Senate in this session and in speaking with Senators Argall and Folmer, we have been assured that the bill is not dead. The Senate is still our best chance with the legislation.  Several avenues are being explored and as we gather more information we’ll pass that information along to you.

And her’s a little advice to the legislators as well as to those lobbying firms. Stop talking to us and start talking with us.  You can’t claim to represent us if you don’t know what we think or how we feel on this issue. We honestly are smart enough to figure some of these things out on our own, we just need an open and honestly dialogue so we can make the most informed decisions.    That takes more than talking points.

Consider this simple fact: the last townhall held on this issue in the Berks area brought out 400 people to sit in a room for 3 hours and listen to the details and specifics of this legislation.  In fact every townhall on this issue brings out large numbers of people and the support for this effort is always overwhelmingly in the positive regardless of where its held.  Show me other political meetings that overwhelming draw in hundreds regardless of where they are held.

In this torrid world of political polarities Democrats, Republicans and Independents sit together in a room and overwhelmingly support this effort.  While lobbying firms that claim to represent groups oppose us, the people those firms supposedly represent disagree.  We have Lawyers, Accountants, Teachers, Doctors, Retailers, Small Business, Factory workers, Established families, New families and Seniors, School Board members, County Commissioners and others in  local government, Realtors, Farmers,  Homeowners, Apartment owners and tenants, Stay At Home Moms, and countless others of all political persuasion among our supporters.

In spite of all the efforts to wear us down, our numbers do not diminish…we continue to grow and we vote.   To be blunt we vote at the ballot box AND we vote with our wallets.  We know what’s at stake here because it is something near and dear to us, the home that provides shelter to our families and that Mr. Stack is NO laughing matter.

 

 

The Fight For School Property Tax Elimination

Persistence Of Vision

I have occasionally been criticized because of my persistent effort to remained focused on eliminating property tax.

Recently my wife pointed out a page that analyzes Facebook posting over the last year to come up with the most used words on a person’s Facebook page.   The results:

facebook words

I guess that would verify the criticism and I don’t really mind.  Actually I guess I’m a little bit proud of that confirmation.

The fight to eliminate the school property tax has been a long struggle.  In a vehicle that eliminates the school property tax while trying to find the revenue necessary to replace that funding, we knew we were in for a challenge.

The Property Tax has been an protected institution that has allowed for a growth in a predatory industry that exploits the dangers of the property tax and people in those industries would much rather preserve the status quo that consider the fact that the tax forces tens of thousands of people out of their homes each year either through foreclosure, bankruptcy or actual tax seizure of property.

We live in a state with 350,000 abandoned properties.  We live in a state where the cost of maintaining this tax and its impact on the lives of good people has been largely ignored.

The constitutional right to be secure in our homes in this commonwealth has been sacrificed on the alter of self-serving interests who simply don’t care about the struggling homeowners in this state.   The fight against expanding the sales tax base can be summed simply by understanding that our opponents are saying they don’t care how many people get taxed out of their homes, just don’t tax those opponents.

As Senator Mike Folmer, an ardent support of elimination, expressed it “We are sacrificing principles on the altar of self-interest”.  And he’s absolutely right.

Granted they spin this to make it sound as though this is not what they are really saying but strip the opposition from their branded talking points and what they are saying is always the same thing.  They don’t care what happens to people and their homes.

Next week there is finally going to be a vote in the Senate on this important piece of legislation.   I want to remain hopeful but I also know that the opposition is ramping up their rhetoric.  School Administrators have been up at the Capitol lobbying against the legislation.  The taxes they are excploiting from homeowners paid for that lobbying effort unlike the rallies in support of of School Property Tax Elimination which were filled by people who had to take a day off work, often at a loss of pay, to demonstrate their support.

On Monday, the 16th of this month school aged-children were exploited by the PSBA.  Children who should have been in classrooms learning were exploited by using them to walk the halls of the Capitol carrying signs advancing the positions of the PSBA.   Once again, that’s your tax dollars hard at work.

We have seen the history of the school district property tax in this state where, in many cases, the burden of that tax has tripled in the last 20 years.   I spite of the fact that the School Property Tax Elimination bill caps future increases to the inflationary growth meaning each school district will receive dollar for dollar replacement of what they currently receive in the School property tax and they’ll receive future increases equivalent to the growth of the rate of inflation, they are unhappy and cry shortfall.

Understand, every time they yell shortfall they are telling you they plan on continuing this rapid and out of control spending and if that means the property tax has to triple again, they don’t care.  If that’s the case, that means they don’t care about renters and homeowners and that means, regardless of the much-abused “all about the children” claim….they really don’t care about the children in those homes either.  The children become the excuse to secure their own Rolls-Royce Healthcare and Retirement even if that means you have to surrender your home to them to do so.

I want to remain hopeful that we will see a victory in the Senate next week on this vote.  I also know that opposition is not below lying about this legislation and using campaign funding resources to pressure legislators to vote another way….isn’t that right Senator McGarrigle?

In spite of campaigning on his support of this legislation, which he apparently didn’t read; in spite of continuing in that support as late as April of this year; the Senator announced the other day that he was withdrawing his support of the legislation and his statements for his reasons are mirrors of talking points that have misrepresented the legislation.   He even used the “shortfall” claim.  Apparently the Senator thinks that school districts should be able to continue to spend until they once again triple the burden on the people in this commonwealth.

Senator McGarrigle can explain that shift of support to his constituents and since the mechanics of the bill has not changed during the time he claimed his support until now, it can’t be the bill that’s the problem even though that will be his reason….pardon me….his excuse!

The hope that I have on the passage of this legislation rests in several things.  First, a handful of Senators who had the courage to take on this issue in the beginning and keep fighting for it.  Secondly, a grassroots operation that was entirely self-funded that remained focused and driven to see this through to the end. That effort included the gathering of finances, mostly from small personal donation, to fund two billboards in Harrisburg to kick off this legislative season.

That grassroots effort was spearheaded by David Baldinger in the creation of a network that allowed people to go out and do what they do best in advancing this legislation.  His determination became a personal inspiration to me and I learned more than support for this legislation from him….far more.

Before the first vote is taken on this legislation I want my fellow grassroots advocates to understand what we have already accomplished.  We have taken an issue that just four years ago power legislators and the lobbyists who fund their campaigns didn’t want to talk about and we made them talk about it.  So much so that it became the centerpeice of the budget negotiations this year.

In every newspaper article I’ve read on this issue, the subject or property tax is right there.  I don’t ever recall budget negotiations in the past was this could be said.   That was the result of the effort and push from grassroots across this state.  Don’t miss that point.

That would not have happened without the grassroots’ efforts.

The various “reduction bills” that sought to destroy the funding mechanisms of HB/SB 76 also arose from our opposition in their efforts to protect the predatory institutions that see our homes as something to exploit.  They claim that at least they tried to give us something but the voters have grown very wise to the deception after years of the same lie being told to them.  A reduction plan is just a bill that temporarily slows the bleeding but that bleeding will be made up for or must likely accelerated in future increases in the school property tax.  They thought they could try the same old same old and the voters would fall for it.

Like the snake-oil salesmen some of our legislators really are, they advocate and advance making promises they know won’t be delivered on.  You simply cant claim a 35% reduction when 12.7 billion dollars is needed and the reduction tax shift only generates 1.4 billion in new revenue. That’s $2.6 billion less than the 4 billion that would be needed just to generate a 33% reduction.  Still they make the claim and only the foolish believe them.

Our opponents have excuses that they try to pass as reasons.  After all, every time they tell us about the shortfall they are reminding each and everyone one of us that they plan on allowing spending like they spent before and will ardently fight against any effort to restore property ownership to it’s rightful place, the homeowner.  They are reminding us that they will fight to preserve the feudalistic notion of school district lord and their rental serfs who must pay their annual allegiance by surrendering up a greater and greater piece of their home.

To my grassroots friends who have fought this fight: Thank you.   You know who you are. I don’t have time or the space to thank you all personally.  I want you to know that we are about to see this vote and the role you have played on getting us here is monumental in its scope.

You’ve accomplished that regardless of no PAC funding, no huge campaign funders, but on your dime because of your effort and because of your commitment.

That’s not a reason to prematurely celebrate but it is a reason to believe that you can help get this over the finish line.  Don’t give up!   Keep this fight moving forward and remind them all that we are watching….watching very, very closely.

Help us all get this vote so that maybe next year the words on that Facebook survey of most used words pictured above says something else.

In all honesty though, I doubt those words will change much.  While this is a major step in restoring property rights to the individuals, we still have a long way to go to finish the job!  It will take a persistence of vision and if this struggle is any indicator….it’s a job that can be done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Budget Debacle and the cost to Pennsylvania Taxpayers.

This has been one crazy week regarding the budget in Pennsylvania.  Over the previous weekend we read news stories like the following:

“One new idea under discussion could provide a cornerstone of the cash Wolf is seeking: diverting the roughly $600 million in slot-machine gambling receipts that school districts currently pass along to homeowners as property tax reductions. That stream of money would shift to the state treasury, while negotiators are discussing an increase in the state sales tax to offset reductions in local school property taxes, another concept that is important to Wolf to improve equity in school funding. The new money from a higher state sales tax would replace the diverted slot-machine dollars to schools – and then some.”

Then it broke that the 600 million was going to be used to pay down the pension debt.  Now we’re being told its 350 million, not 600 million.  First we read that the new tax proposal would generate 2.1 billion in relief, now we’re reading that its closer to 1.4 billion.

These are the people arguing about the budget and it seems to me that a 250 million misquote is something that should raise eyebrows about the competence involved in crafting a budget that involves taking money from tax-payers in the Commonwealth.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had a fudging of numbers while pushing for tax increases.  Back when Wolf was pushing the severance tax on Marcellus Shale, he got those numbers wrong as well.  Wolf insisted that a tax on gas extracted from shale would yield more than $1 billion. The Independent Fiscal Office, however,  estimated the revenue at $555 million

 “It is shocking how much the administration has overstated the revenue a severance tax would generate,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bill Adolph. “Our analysis shows that, due to current market conditions, a severance tax would only generate a fraction of what the governor suggests and would not get anywhere close to the billion the governor is promising for schools across the state.”

How is it possible to plan a budget when the numbers are this wrong?

All along, the centerpiece of the budget debate has been framed around Property Tax with legislators trying to sell plans to increase taxes while lowering property taxes.  One bill, SB 76, would actually eliminate the school property tax by doing the same thing; raising the PIT and Sales tax.  I’ve always held on to the premise that if the school tax remains in place we get a tax increase.  We will be paying a higher PIT and Sales Tax and any reduction we would have seen would have been short-lived as school districts would raise their taxes above current levels as proven by the independent fiscal office review of the astronomical rate of growth statewide concerning the school property tax.

There is a delusional aspect of the progressive mindset that seems to think that numbers can be what they want them to be just because they say so and any data that refutes those numbers is simply to be ignored.   The problem for the people is that regardless of how Utopian their numbers may seem, we don’t live in that fantasy world…we live in the real world and in the real world, the numbers matter.  The numbers matter because our ability to balance out home budgets is going to be greatlyr impacted by the exaggerated promises of a government that inflates the promises to get the tax.  Once enacted, those taxes have to be paid or we risk property seizure, bankruptcy and foreclosure.

Through the history of property tax reform bills the delusional has prevailed.  Act 1 limitations were supposed to stop runaway property tax increases….It didn’t.  The gambling revenue was supposed to provide the potential for elimination of property taxes….it didn’t.

They keep telling us that having regular county-wide assessments fixes unfair irregularities in the property tax.  It doesn’t.  County-wide assessments are followed by countless appeals, the majority of which prove the assessed value of the property is wrong.  Three years after a county-wide assessment in Lebanon County and those appeals are still ongoing often coming at great expense to those filing the appeals as well as to the cost of government.

These delusional promises always come with a heavy price tag on the working families in this Commonwealth but that’s the dangerous collateral damage of the delusional promise; if they are wrong, it comes out of our pocket, not theirs.

Now we have some legislators claiming that the recent proposals in this budget deal that started out with numbers that don’t work would provide a potential for a 35% decrease in property taxes and sadly there will be a lot of people who are going to believe that.  12.7 billion dollars of education funding currently comes from the property tax.  First they’ll take away the relief from gambling revenue and use that money for to pay down the pension debt, which is in the billions, not millions.  Next they’ll raise the sales tax to generate an additional 2 billion according to their numbers which would be used for property tax relief

Got that….they’ll be raising your taxes to give you money back and they are calling that relief.  The problem here is that numbers are all wrong.  This isn’t a even a dollar for dollar tax shift….its a tax increase.

In order to see a 35% decrease in property taxes the new sales/use tax would have to generate $4.45 billion, not 2 billion.  Oddly enough the overstatement of the reduction plays right in line with the previous numbers.  The supposed revenue from the Shale industry was almost 2 times reality.  The supposed money from gambling to pay down the pension debt was almost 2 time reality.  The supposed relief claimed by some legislators is also 2 times more than we could possibly see and the fact is it still won’t be relief because we’ll be paying more in taxes to get less back.  As this continues it will get worse.  School property taxes will continue to increase to fund the pensions and pay the rising medical costs from the Rolls Royce benefits packages of the public sector.

Furthermore, since we haven’t seen how that 2 billion will be dispersed nor have we seen any evidence that the extra money going to the schools would actually translate into lower property taxes asking us to support something along these lines is ridiculous based on the information we are receiving.  The devil, as they say, is always in the details and all we have at this point in time are numbers that are questionable backing up a claim that doesn’t add up.  Based on that we are supposed to make an informed decision.  Expecting that from the voters is delusional!

During all of this snake-oil salesmanship in the budget debate schools and local government are forced to borrow money because the cash from government isn’t going to come until the budget is resolved.  Those loans are not interest free.  That interest will, once again, come through a local property tax because the State Government isn’t getting the job done and, once again, the numbers games being played come at a price.  Once again, we are just the collateral damage of institutions more interested in pushing agenda’s than Constitutionally protecting the rights of property of the people in this Commonwealth.

As I see it, only one bill regarding property tax has been vetted.  Only one bill regarding property tax has gone through that process several times to make sure the numbers worked and the numbers were verifiable.  That bill is SB 76 which totally eliminates the property tax.  The rest of these proposals are being sold in pipe dreams where the only smoke from those pipes is derived from the burning of the Commonwealth taxpayers.

Key points from the Independent Fiscal Office report included:

  • The report projects that in year five after enactment of the legislation will save $1.152 billion annually in the replacement revenue compared to the growth of property taxes if that system remained in place (Page 4, fourth line from the bottom). Property taxes historically rise at greater than three times the level of inflation (which, by the way, is unsustainable in the long term); The legislation limits the growth of the replacement funding to the rate of inflation.
  • The elimination of school property taxes increases the disposable income of property taxpayers. The analysis assumes that 70% of the property tax cut goes to individuals. It further assumes that homeowners spend 90% of the increase in disposable income. (Pages 17-18) (This would be an explosive economic stimulus for Pennsylvania.)
  • The analysis indicates that the bill will cause home values to increase, on average, by more than 10% statewide. (Page 23) (This would restore a big chunk of the equity that was lost to homeowners during the 2008 housing downturn.)
  • (Regarding business entities) … the income flows through to individuals as higher disposable income. For pass through entities, the analysis assumes that owners and shareholders spend 90 percent of the increase and 70 percent is spent on taxable goods and services, yielding another secondary effect of $34 million in increased sales taxes for FY 2013-14. (Page 18) (More economic stimulus.)
  • Working age homeowners realize a tax cut. The analysis finds that the increase in federal income tax (through lower itemized deductions), state income tax, and sales tax is more than offset by the reduction in property taxes. (Page 21)
  • Retired homeowners realize a significant reduction in taxes. The analysis finds that the property tax reduction easily offsets any increase from the higher sales tax. (Page 21)
  • Benefits would also accrue to home builders, home developers, and other land owners who convert current land holdings into new housing plots. Employment would increase in the construction sector as well. (Page 23)
  • The elimination of property taxes would significantly reduce the property tax share and would clearly increase the attractiveness of the Commonwealth for business location and expansion. (Page 25) (Such an increase of businesses in Pennsylvania and expansion of existing businesses would create many much-needed jobs.)

You can learn more about the only properly vetted property tax bill by visiting www.ptcc.us.

Property Tax Independence Betrayal: This is where the rubber meets the road

From the beginning of the budget impasse the mechanics of property tax has been the central theme of the debates.  While there are other issues, its been the alternate plans in their attempts to kill School property Tax independence and so far we’ve been able to hold it off.

By refusing the funding to non-profits and school districts the Governor set a stage that would create a place where he could use their pressure to force the legislators to cave and if they fall for the latest proposed compromise he won and SB 76 is dead.

The proposal of taking the gambling funds and putting them in the state treasury in exchange for an increase in the sales taxes to replace that money isn’t a compromise.  Its a tax shift that doesn’t do a damned thing but bring us the same empty promises that the gambling revenue was supposed to bring us and never did.   It the same old promises where the only people getting screwed are the homeowners in this state.

You have a right to be very angry that this is even being considered.  Even if you don’t support SB 76 you should be angry.  Any legislator, Democrat or Republican who votes for this is betraying the homeowners and any legislator, Democrat or Republican, who tries to spin this as something that will help homeowners in this state is lying to you and after years of the failed relief, has to know its not the truth.

Now we can sit here and we can complain or we can do something about it.  We can pretend that all of this is just more of the same and sit back and let it happen or we can take a stand and say to this government….ENOUGH!

Tomorrow the legislators phones should go viral.  If the people of this Commonwealth don’t stand up and flood the phone lines this is what we are going to get as property tax relief and its not going to help any of us.  Its going to make it much worse.

You can start by contacting House Majority Leader Dave Reed, (717) 705-7173, and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, (717) 787-1377, with the same message: ANY INCREASE IN THE SALES TAX WITHOUT ELIMINATION IS UNACCEPTABLE! DO IT NOW AND PLEASE TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO DO THE SAME.

You can then go to http://www.legis.state.pa.us/ and find your legislators or, for that matter all legislators, and you can call them and tell them all the same thing.  Ignoring this as though it won’t make a difference is an excuse not a reality.  It will make a difference if you don’t call because your voice won’t be heard on the matter.  The Governor and those in both parties who want to kill property tax elimination or have feigned their support for the sake of garnering votes to get elected will do what they want and we the people of this commonwealth will pay the price.

This is not a compromise.  In fact, of all the proposals, its the worst of the lot and the other alternates were bad enough on their own.    It’s time to end the partisan nonsense.  Any Legislator of either party who backs this compromise is betraying their responsibility to represent the people who put them in office.

Bread and Circuses: The Landscape of American Politics

Frankly, I am about fed up with the current state of affairs of politics in America.   It’s become a system of bread and circuses while the average family in America is seriously struggling.  Both parties are guilty and the the political media is complicit.

What I’m going to say is going to piss off a lot of people and you know what…so be it.  I make no apologies that the post isn’t complimented by the addition of some cute puppy or cat picture to lure you into reading it or some catchy misleading headline to fool you into believing the article is something it isn’t.  There are no videos claiming that this will be the most amazing thing you’ll see this year along with the thousands of other videos that will also be the most amazing thing you’ll see this year.  That, however, is the society we’ve become: the brand – not the principles.

The term bread and circuses comes from the Latin expression of panem et circenses.  The phrase is used to describe the generation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or policy, but through diversion; distraction; or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of a populace.  Give the people enough “free stuff” and supply them with enough political entertainment and the government can get away with anything they want.

We have been rocked with scandals from Benghazi, to the IRS, FCC, EPA and countless other government bureaucracies.  In the process we have had endless hearings where all the political rhetoric is rolled out giving both sides enough fuel to let them claim they owned the other followed by the endless spin in the media but few enough seem to be angry that in spite of the political rhetoric….nothing happens.   No matter how outrageous the actions, no one gets prosecuted, nothing really gets done.

Actually that’s not entirely true.  The real perpetrators aren’t prosecuted but the people, the working families, pay for all the political grandiose while other legislation advances further eroding our rights, our liberties and our property.

How many hearings are we going to have  on Hillary Clinton, her actions regarding Benghazi, and the risk she placed this nation by using an unsecure server to communicate with others while lying to the American people?  Its been 8 months and in spite of the rousing political speeches, nothing has happened.  During those 8 months I’ve read too many stories that each claim the next piece of information is the one that will bring down the Clinton Dynasty.

We heard the same things about Lois Lerner and the IRS scandal and is she in prison because she used her powerful office to target law-abiding American citizens?  No, she isn’t but the hearing provided for entertainment for the political masses fueling media coffers in promoting the latest most outrageous statements made during the hearings.

The circus mentality isn’t simply reserved for the national spotlight.  It occurs at the state and local levels as well.  Regardless of how heinous the charges, if the individual involved offers enough free stuff to people they’ll soar in the polls.   Just look at Hillary, a lifetime with a legacy of political abuse and corruption but none of it matters; its just promising bread and providing for the circus and she gets a free pass from millions of voters in America.

When we reach a point where you can watch video of the killing a living baby to chop it up and sell its parts for profit and people still defend funding that organization, maybe we’ve reached a point of no return as a nation; maybe we’ve actually lost our political souls in the name of being entertained.

As a nation, the majority seems to be more interested in preserving parties than doing the right thing.  A legislator isn’t right or wrong based on their policy positions or voting record, they are right or wrong solely based on the initial that follows their name defining their political party.  After all, what happened to Cindy Sheehan after George Bush left office?  Was the war in the middle east no longer important to her?  Where are Michael Moore’s scathing assaults of Obama on the Golf Course such as we saw with George Bush?

Unfortunately the Bread and Circuses have become distractions to satisfy our political anger as those in power exert more and more control over the American people.  On one hand they create the anger and then they want to use force to control the very anger they are creating.

That anger is growing.  Its creating more and more volatile situations where people consider turning to violence as their only real recourse to justice, however just or misguided that claim of justice may be.

You see, while the majority of the masses may, in fact, be sheep and fall for the alluring prospects of bread and circuses, there are many in the country who are not sheep.  There are many who are doing what the media refuses to do and that’s dig for the truth.  The deeper we dig, the uglier it is; the more vile the stench and the more heinous the actions.

It was once said that if you tell a lie often enough it becomes the truth.  Today, few know what to believe because so much if it is a misrepresentation of the truth.  Everything must be branded even if the brand is a lie.  The new and improved product isn’t improved, just new.  The lies to represent the improvement however are as old as time itself.

To me its no longer so much a matter of right vs left as it is about a powerful structure of a shadow government running the political spectrum.  Its like a game of king of the hill where you will knock down you best friend just for the title of king of that mound of dirt.  The problem in America is that we still think, even after that friend has kicked us in our face for that title, they are somehow still our friend.  In politics, the stakes are much higher than a simple mound of dirt; the stakes involve your home, your liberty, your income, the education/indoctrination of your children and grandchildren and so much more.  The stakes involve a system of government that appears to be hell-bent on bringing us to the brink of World War III.  They have opened the doors of this nation to drug cartels, criminals and global terrorism all in the name of immigration and its not a mistake….its a design.  This government is using the same economic and militant tools in this country that the more covert aspects of our government have used to topple foreign powers.  And no, its not just Obama…its both parties who are willing to sell out you and this nation to the highest global bidders.

We live in a time where more and more of our rights to our own property are violated by a government who thinks they own us and our land and there are too many of us who are willing to stand outside to watch the clowns while the government slips in the back door to steal yet one more piece of our homes and livelihood.

Our elections have become corrupted, controlled through party controls where all that matters is the bread and circuses and few vote because they really understand where the individual actually stands on the issues.

Take your own poll.  Go out among your friends and ask them who voted in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court election and then ask them where those candidates stood on the issues that were important to them;  see how many can actually give you an informed answer.

The 24 hour news cycle feeds into the bread and circuses.  News isn’t supposed to be entertaining, its supposed to be honest, unbiased and informative.  It’s not Saturday Night Live…it’s news.

Local news is no different.  The debacle with the the recent actions locally concerning the Cleona Chief of Police and the original biased reporting in the newspaper clearly reflects the love of bread and circuses over actual journalism.  It was, in my opinion, a disgrace.

While a lot of Americans are angry about the political landscape, too few are willing to actually take a stand to become more informed or to do anything about it.  They’ll complain but they won’t take a stand, unless, of course, George Soros or some other corrupt corporate powerhouse, is willing to pay them to do so. Then their opinion will be based on on the political funder, not on their own convictions, but then again why should they be any different than the majority of the politicians they elect who are willing to sell their own political souls to embrace the position of the political power players who buy their elections for them.

I was recently reading an article about the “conservative” victory in removing John Boehner from the speaker position.  Boehner blamed Rush Limbaugh and other conservative talk show hosts for his fall from political godhood because, after all, it couldn’t have been how poorly he represented the people who elected him to office.  He was there to give them bread and circuses. not sound fiscal policy.

Boehner was then replaced by Paul Ryan who then gave Charlie Dent a key position on the policy committee to help the party determine policy positions.  Seriously….Charlie Dent, the modern GOP equivalent to Arlen Spector.  So much for the conservative voice but hey, its just bread and circuses and after all does policy really matter as long as the government gets to continue its stranglehold on our Life, Liberty and Property

More Distortions from the Government in the Commonwealth of PA concerning Property Taxes

You might remember  when the gambling efforts were advanced in this state and the promise of property tax relief even to the point of elimination was advanced to sell this Commonwealth into accepting institutionalized gambling.  The little bit that was realized from that relief is about to be shattered under the latest proposals from the negotiators in this budget process.

According to news outlets “One new idea under discussion could provide a cornerstone of the cash Wolf is seeking: diverting the roughly $600 million in slot-machine gambling receipts that school districts currently pass along to homeowners as property tax reductions. That stream of money would shift to the state treasury, while negotiators are discussing an increase in the state sales tax to offset reductions in local school property taxes, another concept that is important to Wolf to improve equity in school funding. The new money from a higher state sales tax would replace the diverted slot-machine dollars to schools – and then some.”

So once again we are told that diverting the money that was supposed to go to property tax relief, possibly elimination, is to go into the state treasury and then they’ll raise our sales tax to pick up the lost revenue to the schools from the gambling money.  Once again we are told this will bring greater relief than the gambling revenue and all of this is just more misrepresentation of the reality of the problems in this state with the property tax.

Yes, the public school system has a spending problem but I have never understood the disconnect or the inability to see that it is, in fact, the property tax itself, that allows for this spending problem not only to continue but to accelerate faster than other forms of taxation.  The government, realizing that people pay less attention to local elections where voter turnout is often much lower during those cycles, has used the property tax to fund the advancement of agendas that are threatening our most fundamental rights to property.  Without eliminating the property tax, that isn’t going to change.  We will constantly be fighting the spending problem as they look for new ways to extort more money from our homes.

The entire system that supports property tax is flawed, from assessments (both county-wide and the spot assessment system) on down the line.  Here in Lebanon County with a court ordered reassessment just a few short years ago we already have a common level ratio applied and the appeals are still on going after three years.  It didn’t fix the problem, it made it worse.  The appeals process, in turn, becomes an expensive proposal that many homeowners can’t afford to pursue.   It’s a system where due process is a joke and your guilty until you prove yourself innocent.

In the past four years I’ve probably spent more time studying the property tax issue in this commonwealth than any other issue and the deeper I go into this mess the more unfair, non-uniform, corrupt and fowl the property tax is in advancing controls over people lives through their homes.  Few people realize that we have a Tax equalization department that determines the common level ratio applied to the property tax that helps control the revenue generated.  By control I mean to make sure the government is getting the maximum exploitation from the tax that is already proven to be unfair to begin with.

The appeals process demonstrates that assessments don’t work….especially since the majority of the appeals are decided in favor of those appealing.  That’s great for those who can afford to enter into that process but to a working family who is struggling to pay their tax debt to the public school system they often don’t have the extra money to wage that fight and apparently the system is built to assure it works that way….appeals are for those who can afford them.  Is it any wonder that the lawyer lobbyists oppose elimination?  They can claim that they oppose it because a sales tax may be applied to some of their services but maybe it’s really because they have so much financial gain from profiteering off the appeals process and other aspects related to the property tax than their altruistic claims of supposedly hurting their clients because a sales tax might be levied on some of their services (not criminal or business to business in 76).

Digging deeper into the property tax issue is the only way to discover how predatory special interests use the property tax like the profiteering pirates of old use open trade to exploit working families for their own profit and gain.  Their reward is to get a seat at the table on hearings where they can continue to advance their pillaging of taxpayers in the name of supporting the status quo of the property tax.  They get away with it because most people don’t realize the industry of exploitation the property tax enables.

I can go on but to regular readers of this blog, you already know those issues.  I am just sick and tired of the lies to the people in this state.  I am tired of legislators who would dare use property tax elimination as a re-election carrot but did nothing to help advance the issue when they got to Harrisburg  (I know its not all of them but with a majority in the Senate who say they support it, why hasn’t it come up for a vote yet?)

We have a corporate controlled news-media who picks and chooses which news stories to run and when they do choose to run a story it is slanted to push agenda’s, not news. We have politicians who will promise us everything to get elected and once elected fall into the system of doing everything they can to screw us and then turn and try to sell what they’ve just done as being something that is good for the people….i.e; Agenda 21, The Patriot Act; No Child Left Behind, Common Core; Amnesty; Funding Planned Parenthood  (need I go on).  And we have a system of taxation called the property tax where people who claim to support and love Liberty have fought against eliminating in total disregard of what it is doing to many working families who fall beneath the median income levels in this commonwealth.

The working family: lets translate that in Pennsylvania….”Collateral Damage to any spending proposal that will benefit elections and cronyism in this state where lobbyists are paid huge sums of moneys for opinions that they may personally disagree with but must advance because it means their paycheck.”   And believe me there are more than enough of them.    I’ve spoken to several who personal agree with property tax elimination but as a lobbyist they must take a public position against it or they won’t have their job.  Does that sound like America?  Does that sound like Liberty?  Or does that sound like paycheck over principle in the willingness to put the screws to the state for the special and corporate interests?

You watch as the same interests who opposed SB 76 because it raised the sales tax to provide elimination will get behind this new proposal and support it in their hypocritical paradoxology.  Its okay to increase the sales tax to reduce but not eliminate.  That way they can continue to  lord over us as we pay a higher sales tax and the property tax can be used to pay for whatever new scheme they dream up and our property taxes increase, surpassing existing levels.  They may have once claimed that increasing the sales tax hurts the poor but if you keep the property tax in place and raise the sales tax….then its okay!   Then somehow, it doesn’t hurt the poor anymore.  You can’t have it both ways but that’s never stopped the disingenuous lobbyists from putting the screws to the people of this commonwealth.

For too many legislators it’s no longer about securing the rights of people and the consent of the governed.  It’s about power and making sure that government continues to secure its power over us.  When legislators do rise up and attempt to restore the rights to the people; media, cronyism and special interests will rush to attack those legislators in their attempts to destroy those legislators and those destroyers often includes the leadership in this countries two party system.

Their real desire is to empower the endless bureaucracies that, as Thomas Jefferson put it, in “erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.”

Jefferson’s words clearly describe this latest proposal from those who would seek to control, even take away, the Liberty and property of we the people!

Elimination is the only way to solve that problem and the only plan that is well thought out with an emphasis on putting controls back in the hands of the people is SB 76.  That is what they fear the most!  End of story!

We are being lied to and we are being betrayed. The only way that changes is if we the people stand up and change it.  We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to future generations.  No tax should have the power to leave you homeless.  No tax should be stealing peoples homes to pay for the retirement of others in the public sector.  No tax should be an excuse for the predatory system in place that exploits the egregious nature of the tax for personal profit and gain at the expense of the hard working families in this state.