As a resident of the city of Lebanon in Lebanon County I just received the good news that we’ll see a 1 mill increase in our county taxes. This is after being told we’ll also see an increase in our municipal property taxes and a school property tax that will, once again, exceed the Act 1 limits.
The rhetoric was once again rolled out that this is only a 47 cent a day increase but that translates into $171.55 a year. Add that to the school tax increase and the municipal increase and we aren’t talking about pennies a day any more…we’re talking dollars.
At the same time we are hearing that somehow, while it was immoral to expand the sales tax base to eliminate the school property tax, its not immoral to expand the sales tax base just to raise revenue for the state.
The County Commissioners said that this isn’t about fat in the budget but I guess we are just supposed to forget that county employees in the public sector received salary increases at a time when many working families in the county have seen their income dropping.
On Monday, November 23, the State Legislators had the opportunity to remove a huge burden from the shoulders of home owners by eliminating the school property tax through a tax shift that is a more equitable way to fund education. Thanks to votes from Senators like Corman, Ward, Blake and McGarrigle, who feigned support of elimination but when it came time to actually cast a vote, turned their backs on working families in Pennsylvania in a major act of betrayal of their promise to the people.
Lebanon County is a stunning example of the inequity of the property tax system. City residents already pay the highest millage rate in the county. It’s six mills higher then the next highest which is Annville-Cleona. It 7 to 10 mills higher than other parts of the county. That means we are paying 6 more dollars on every 1000 dollars of property worth than anyone else in the county.
City homes generally have lower property values than the surrounding municipalities. Because of the property tax, this is like charging a higher sales tax on items of lower worth. Imagine paying a 7% sales tax on a lamp because it sells for $20 less than a $40 dollar lamp where the sales tax is only 6%. Yet this is exactly what we see with the school property tax.
The median household income in the city limits is $20,000 a year less than the surrounding municipalities. That means that city residents, who have less income are paying a higher millage rate on their property than surrounding areas where the income is actually higher. And yet so many seem to think this is a fair form of taxation.
Sb 76 was a tax shift. It was a tax shift away from an archaic system of funding education into a more equitable form of taxation where everyone paid the same PIT tax rate regardless of income. Everyone would pay 4.95 percent of the PIT. That means that the more you earn the more total income you made, the more money you would pay but it would be the same percentage across the board. It was a flat tax approach where eveyone paid the same percentage.
Disposable income after the tax dictate how much money you have to spend through the sales tax but even there, everyone pays the same sales tax on the items they are purchasing.
We heard much todo about how this tax shift would negatively impact working families and the poor including the lies that all food and clothing were being taxed. First of all that wasn’t true and secondly, it deliberately ignored the egregious nature of the greater burden of property taxation’s impact on those same families. Renters, who may mistakenly believe they aren’t paying property tax fail to realize that rent increases are directly tied to property tax increases.
Every time the legislators at any level of government talk about tax increases they always turn that rhetoric into the pennies a day rhetoric. They make it sound as though its not so bad but when you start adding those pennies up through the multiple tax increases at all levels of government pennies turn into dollars with soon become too burdensome for many working families to endure.
Once again, during the debate on the County mill increase the pension numbers were rolled out. Once again we are told that driving factor behind this choice in the pension problem. This is just more rhetoric. Our State Legislators know its a problem, refuse to rescind their own pensions and other unconstitutional perks while pretending to claim they want to do something about the pension debacle.
It appears that the only thing they are willing to do is keep kicking that can down the road and every kick is just another kick in the seat of the pants of the working families in this state. Just like the no vote on school property tax elimination they hide behind the rhetoric of the working poor and working families while kicking them in the shins. That’s okay though, the history of the Pennsylvania voter is that, come next election they look to their incumbent shin-kicker and say “Please sir, may I have another!” They are actually counting on that!
Pennsylvania is one of those states that refuses to enter into the 21st century. They cling to the property tax and defend it regardless of the evidence of its flawed and egregious nature. They see the prosperity of other right to work states and then they say, not here, not in Pennsylvania…we have to make sure we keep protecting our campaign funding public sector allies. And make no mistake, they go out of their way to protect them. Union dues are collected using tax payers dollars, archaic prevailing wage laws protect union workers at the expense of working families. If a Union employee doesn’t pay his bills, union dues can’t be used for wage attachment.
We all know we have a pension problem but doing something about isn’t an option. Instead, we’ll just seize more property from working families in the state and sell it to them using the whole pennies a day rhetoric.
We’ve had a budget impasse for almost 6 months now. The Governor says that he doesn’t want to release revenue to fund local schools and governments because the revenue isn’t there so I have a simply question.
While you aren’t paying you obligations (except, of course the wages and salaries of everyone in the public sector) what is happening to the PIT and the Sales Tax during this 6 months. By my recollection the budget last year was framed around 28.7 billion which means you’ve collected at least half of that during this 6 months impasse. Then again, fact no longer matter, its only the rhetoric.
While this will probably get me in trouble with the political correctness police, the rhetoric is little more than lies to the people in developing talking points to sell ideologies rather than restrict yourselves to the constitutional limits of government. The law (Constitution) is for everyone else, not legislators.
Think about this. we are supposed to have a representative form of government and yet in Pennsylvania we don’t have recall options for politicians gone bad. Considering were in the top 5% of the states with corrupt politicians, that should be alarming to us all. We also don’t have ballot initiatives where we can petition legislators to put an item on the ballot for the people to give their voice to issues that are important to us. I’m wondering how Property Tax Elimination and Medical Cannabis would fare if the people were allowed to determine for themselves.
I continue to find it particularly alarming that we hear that eliminating the pension and moving all public sector employees into a 401k is unconstitutional but as I read the Constitution I see that only wages and compensation for gas to and from the legislative duties is all that is allowed. I understand that the state has a responsibility to give them what they promised and fine. End the pension roll that promised money over into 401k’s and put every public sector employee in the new retirement system…one that reflects the types of retirement we in the private sector see.
I find it ironic that a decade ago people in the Commonwealth became enraged enough to fight back against the legislative pay raise. The ensuing months of public outrage led to a repeal in November 2005, but the Supreme Court restored pay raises for about 1,000 judges, including the high court judges, based on a state constitutional provision that generally prevents judges’ pay from being lowered.
Since that time the legislative pay for our elected representatives has continued to increase as had the public burden for the extravagant pensions and healthcare systems. That burden, in many cases is passed down to home owners through the local property tax but the rage has apparently died. Its apparently okay to keep taking a larger and larger slice of your home, just so long as they don’t vote for a pay raise. They can steal your raise, they can steal your home and that’s apparently okay, just so long as they don’t vote for another pay raise.
This mentality is ridiculous but the People of Pennsylvania have embraced it and until they reject it little will change in Harrisburg. They’ll keep putting the crews to the working families in the state while using the campaign rhetoric talking points that repeatedly amounts to lies to the People of the Commonwealth in claiming to do something that, once in Harrisburg, is betrayed for other interests.