With apologies to Peggy Lee, my first reaction to the news that a Legislative committee had reached agreement on "property tax relief" for Pennsylvanians was: "Is that all there is?"
This is what the most expensive state Legislature in the country came up with since Gov. Ed Rendell called a special session last Sept. 29 to address the property tax squeeze on Pennsylvania homeowners?
While Ed Rendell and the Legislature dine on filet mignon, taxpayers fight for table scraps.
The Harrisburg Hogs, who average $150,000 a year in salary and benefits, are throwing a bone to senior citizens in the hope they can fool enough of them to stay home on May 16 instead of showing up in record numbers to throw the bums out.
Two weeks before the primary election that could shape the future of Pennsylvania for decades to come, the Legislature and Rendell — the same people who brought you the July 2005 payjacking — are going to send a tiny percentage of Pennsylvania seniors a couple of hundred bucks in 2007. Maybe.
This is not property tax relief. It's a royal scam from the Pennsylvania aristocracy. Rendell will borrow money from the state lottery to give more seniors a rebate next year. The number of senior eligible for a few hundred dollars in rebates will go from 320,000 to roughly 740,000. Last time I checked, Pennsylvania's population was almost 13 million.
Terry Madonna, the noted political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College, said in a television interview Tuesday that the tax rebates will go to about 2 percent of Pennsylvania's elderly. The other 98 percent get nothing. As in zero, nada, zilch. Nothing for the middle class. Nothing for working Pennsylvanians. Nothing for the illegal immigrants who protested around the state Monday.
Any day now, expect Rendell and his co-conspirators in the payjacking (the Chip Brightbills, Robert Jubelirers and John Perzels of the world) to be high-fiving each other for passing the Save the Incumbents' Butts Act of 2006.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. We've been fooled time and time again by Rendell and the Legislators.
State Rep. Sam Rohrer, the Berks County legislator who was instrumental in crafting the Commonwealth Caucus plan told the Reading Eagle that nobody who supports substantive tax relief could possibly vote for the House-Senate compromise plan. "It's cowardice," Rohrer told the newspaper.
Of course it's cowardice. It's election-year pandering at its worst. More promises. More IOUs. More lies from self-serving politicians. Give us another two years or four years in office and we'll keep stringing you idiots along. That's the bottom line from Rendell and Co.
A problem that has plagued the state for 30 years is suddenly "solved" two weeks before an election that is shaping up to be a nightmare for incumbents? Something is rotten in the state of Pennsylvania, especially when 40 Senators voted "yes" to the compromise plan Tuesday and sent it to the House.
The gambling revenues that Rendell is counting on are still two years away. And the key issue with slots revenues is that the money for tax relief will come only when gambling revenues (translation: losses by gamblers) reach $1 billion.
In other words, Pennsylvania seniors, who have been known to hit a slot machine or two, will have to lose $1 billion before Fast Eddie sends them a rebate of $250.
A roomful of monkeys could have crafted a better tax relief plan than the one Pennsylvania politicians are about to pawn off on unsuspecting voters.
Here's what won't change if Rendell signs this bill into law. Your school taxes will still go up this year and the tax increase will be much higher than the $250 rebates Rendell and his cronies are promising next year.
Only in Pennsylvania can voters demand tax relief and be forced by politicians into accepting tax increases, which is at the heart of this week's legislation. Residents of school districts that approve increases in the earned income tax would be the only ones eligible for Rendell's rebates.
This governor has never met a tax hike he didn't sign into law. He puts Hillary Clinton to shame in the Hall of Fame of tax-and-spend liberals.
Rendell's signature on this bill is a death warrant for Pennsylvania property owners. Remember that on May 16 when you see an incumbent's name on the ballot and Nov. 7 when Rendell wants another four years.