Thursday, May 17, 2007
Punish politicians for tax relief hoax
Now that Act 1 has been flushed down the drain by Pennsylvania voters, it's time to hold the politicians behind the tax chicanery accountable.
It's too late to do anything about Gov. Ed Rendell, the driving force behind the Act 1 sham. He's safely re-elected to a new four-year term. The best voters can do is demand that their legislators oppose Rendell's tax-and-spend agenda.
But there are more than 175 incumbent legislators who voted for Act 1 last year. Many of these career politicians were re-elected in 2006. Voters shouldn't make the same mistake again when these legislators face re-election in 2008
Just like the July 2005 legislative pay raise, voters should hold lawmakers accountable for their vote on Act 1, another betrayal of the public trust.
The state House passed legislation that led to Act 1 by a 137 to 61 margin. Most of the 'No' votes were by Republican lawmakers. The state Senate approved the measure by a 40 to 9 margin. House members have to run for re-election every two years. Senate members run every four years, but only half the Senate will face the voters in 2008.
In Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties, the following state representatives voted in favor of Act 1: David G. Argall (R-124); Tom Caltagirone (D-127); Kate Harper (R-61); Art Hershey (R-13); Daylin Leach (R-149); Doug Reichley (R-134); Carole Rubley (R-157); Dante Santoni (D-126); and Josh Shapiro (D-153).
Until we see genuine property tax relief, think twice about re-electing these people in 2008.
In the Senate, the following members who represent parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery (and voted in favor of Act 1) will face the voters in 2008: Michael A. O’Pake (D-11); Dominic Pileggi (R-9); James J. Rhoades (R-29) and Connie Williams (D-17).
If you want to know how your state representative or senator voted on Act 1, send me an e-mail and I'll get the information for you.
Meanwhile, back at the governor's mansion, Ed Rendell woke up with a hangover on Wednesday. Tuesday’s Primary Election did not go well for Rendell, who many regard as political genius.
Not only did Act 1 go down in flames, but all the candidates Rendell endorsed in the May 15 primary, lost their respective races.
Rendell backed C. Darnell Jones for a Democratic nomination to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Jones came in a distant third with just 18 percent of the vote.
Rendell also backed state Rep. Dwight Evans for mayor of Philadelphia. Evans came in a distant fifth with just 8 percent of the vote.
Just more chinks in the armor of the once invincible governor. Good thing the Pennsylvania Constitution doesn't permit recall elections.
After he took some Alka-Seltzer, Rendell, through his spokesman, hinted that voters were too stupid to understand that voting to raise their taxes was a good thing.
"The governor believes that voters ought to have local control over the mix of taxes that support their schools," Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said. "The dollar-for-dollar exchange (under the tax shifts) was straightforward. Unfortunately, the interpretation, by the time it got to the voters, seemed to be much more complicated."
Rendell also attempted to blame Republican leaders in the Legislature for forcing him to sign Act 1 into law.
Here's what Rendell said on June 27, 2006, when he went to an old lady's house to sign Act 1:
"This day is a major victory for Pennsylvanians who have fought for decades to have their property taxes cut. Every homeowner in Pennsylvania will not only get significant reduction, but they will finally get a say in future tax increases. This bill represents a victory of the possible over politics-as-usual."
That doesn't sound like anybody was twisting Rendell's arm to get him to sign Act 1, which he proclaimed as a historic tax cut for all Pennsylvanians.
Here's why Act 1 sank faster than the Titanic. Voters are not as stupid as Rendell thinks they are.
Pennsylvania residents want the elimination of all property taxes used to fund public education. The only solution that makes sense is the Commonwealth Caucus Plan, also known as the Plan for Pennsylvania's Future. Rendell and the Democratic majority in the House oppose the plan because it would restrict the government’s ability to take away your home if you don’t pay property taxes. It would also force school boards to live within their means.
Rendell's Act 1 shell game would have increased taxes for two-thirds of Pennsylvania residents in return for a promise of a few hundred dollars down the road. Rendell has made too many promises already that he hasn't kept.
Voters have finally figured out Rendell and his empty promises. Unfortunately, that moment of realization came six months after Rendell was re-elected to another four years as governor.