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!