According to a recent report that estimates that corruption on the state level is costing Americans in the 10 most corrupt states an average of $1,308 per year, or 5.2% of those states’ average expenditures per year.
The researchers studied more than 25,000 convictions of public officials for violation of federal corruption laws between 1976 and 2008 as well as patterns in state spending to develop a corruption index that estimates the most and least corrupt states in the union.
Pennsylvania came in 5th largely because of the convictions of public officials. This should come as no shock to those of us who live in Pennsylvania, except perhaps that we only came in 5th.
We have a budget process where money for the budget can be appropriated before letting taxpayers know how much that budget is going to cost them. Politicians then vote for the appropriations but then vote against the money to fund what they voted for and somehow think the process is reasonable. That convoluted thinking is just part of the problem.
In Pennsylvania, who is paying the lion’s share of that $1,308 dollars a year. Consider that the education budget is already at $30 billion dollars with almost $13 billion of that (almost half) coming from property owners. Now consider the State is also talking about a $30 billion + budget that includes the state portion of education funding. We’re already paying for almost half the education funding in the state plus we pay the PIT and the Sales/Use Tax. Then there all those extra hidden taxes that we often don’t even realize we are paying. Taxes at the Gas pumps; Taxes levied on business that turn up as higher prices for goods and services we need; Taxes on our Television, internet and phone services.
Are all of those taxes necessary? Apparently not!
According to a report from the House GOP, during the 5 year budget impasse, the Governor spent 30 billion dollars with money coming out of reserve funds appropriated from previous budget that go back as far 2012. That’s 10 billion dollars a year of monies appropriated and not used that turned up in reserve funds.
Reading the report, even the legislators admit that, due to a lack of Transparency they don’t really know the details of how the money got there or, for that matter, the details of how the money was spent. They just have a general idea….and so few seem to really have a problem with this. It was a news story for a few days and then it disappears buried in advancing the partisan bickering over the budget without really exploring or demanding details.
Throughout this budget impasse both the Governor and our elected legislators seem to working hard at keeping details for getting out in to the public. Things like taxing homeowner’s fire insurance…they certainly don’t want that to become public knowledge but we’ve been told its in there. We were also told that there was consideration of taxing golf fees but that was quickly removed.
Let that sink in for a minute. Fire insurance on a home is pretty much a requirement. It most certainly is if your home is still mortgaged but even many homeowners whose homes are paid for in full (except for the annual property tax extortion since the government Lords still want their tribute from the taxpaying serfs) still carry fire insurance. If you’ve ever experienced or knew anyone that has experienced the devastating impact of a fire in your home it is understandable why this is a necessity for homeowners.
Our Commonwealth Constitution assures that All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness. It’s Article 1, Section 1 of our Commonwealth Constitution show being the first thing in our Constitution, I would think that its authors were trying to tell us of its importance.
Acquiring, Possessing and Protecting Property is no longer viewed as a right in this Commonwealth to be protected. It is now apparently viewed as privilege that must be taxed, unlike Golfing which apparently has become a protected right of higher priority than home ownership.
Our General Assembly and our Governor has determined that it is not their responsibility to protect that right….its is their responsibility to tax our rights. One has to wonder how long it will be before we pay a tax on free speech or maybe a Life tax that you pay each year just because we are still alive. How about a Liberty Tax…every time your exercise your Liberty, drop a buck in the Government Coffer.
Now you may think that’s ridiculous but that exactly how the Property Tax works and yet so many people still accept it as a reasonable form of taxati. The government looks at you and says:
“Oh, I see you are still living in house, a house that isn’t adding any money to your monthly income, but your in it just the same so we have to tax you”
“What’s that, your home is paid for but you can’t afford to pay the taxes on the home”
“Gee, That’s too bad. Looks like we are going to take your home from you. Lucky for you, we’ll sell it on auction to make sure we get those taxes!
“What do you mean your lifetime of investment in that property? What do you think this is a free ride? All we want is the taxes and if that’s all we get in the auction then that’s all there is. Thank you! Have a nice day!”
What about Article 1, Section 10 of the Commonwealth Constitution which states: nor shall private property be taken or applied to public use, without authority of law and WITHOUT JUST COMPENSATION being first made or secured.
Why does that only apply to Eminent Domain laws? The taxes on your property are supposedly for public use aren’t they? It goes to pay for the wages of the public sector employees; It pays for the police force who are supposed to be protecting you and your neighbors; It pays for the Rom Offices and their staff in providing services to your Community; It pays for the teachers in the public schools who are supposed to be teaching our children.
Yet thousands of homes go up for auction in sheriff sales each year and just compensation is not even considered.
Home ownership is not longer a protected right. We are treated like criminals. Home ownership has become viewed as privilege, insuring that property is a privilege but Golfing…..apparently that’s a right, a necessity so we better not tax that.
The legislators know that taxing playing Golf would be harmful to the Golf Industry and they can’t have that but why isn’t the same consideration given to a home owner. If you had to choose between the two, wouldn’t you think that protecting the homeowner would have the higher priority.
It demonstrates the hypocrisy of those who are elected to represent us that they would look at Golfing as an untouchable but homeowners…increasing their tax burden….not a problem.
Now legislators will tell you they aren’t actually going to tax the homeowner, they are going to tax the Insurance Industry as though that isn’t going to get passed on to the consumer through higher premium prices that after the increases of the School Property Tax, may no longer be affordable to the homeowner, especially the half of the population of homeowners below the median income levels who would be less financially able to find future security if a fire were to destroy their home.
The same lie about not taxing the homeowner directly is the logic they use when they pass unfunded mandates on our County, Municipal and School Districts and then claim they haven’t raised our taxes. Yes they have! An unfunded mandate has to be paid for and its paid for through higher taxation at the local level.
Let’s also not forget that fire insurance is required on rental properties. Those premiums will go up and that will require landlords to increase rents. For many families renting is not an option. They may have enough money to buy a modest home in a city but the property taxes already keep them out of home ownership. Rent, as a result of ever increasing property taxes now rivals a mortgage on a home and with the fire insurance tax, low income families who could still afford an apartment in a safer part of the community will now be forced into cheaper apartments in less desirable neighborhoods introducing those children to an environment their parents may have wanted to protect them from. It will also require higher subsidies for those low-income families to help pay the rising rents which translates into higher taxes for everyone else, or at least for our current General Assembly and Governor….higher taxes for home owners.
In each of these taxation policies its becoming more and more apparent that Legislators will bend over backwards to protect everyone but the homeowner. We are just the collateral damage. If you have to lose your home in the process, well that’s just too bad. It’s okay if another tax is levied on you and you are forced out of your home but whatever they do the legislators have to keep those golfers on the golf course.