After finishing the 2006-07 fiscal year with a $650 million surplus, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania continues to take in more than it needs to operate.
Politicians call it a surplus or a rainy day fund or a cushion, but what we're dealing with here is over-taxation. Government is taking in too much money, more money than it projected it would need to stay in operation and more money than its number-crunchers anticipated.
The August numbers released by the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue show that Pennsylvania collected $1.7 billion for its General Fund, which was $6.5 million more than anticipated.
The state took in $1.8 billion in July, the first month of the new fiscal year. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $3.5 billion, which is $17.4 million above estimate.
Here's a suggestion. Give the money back. Today. Not a year from now. Not when it has accumulated to $500 million or more. Now.
You remember what happened to the $650 million the state had left over after the last fiscal year, don't you? The politicians spent it. It's gone. As in we'll never see a dime of it despite umpteenth promises by Gov. Ed Rendell and the Legislature that they're going to cut property taxes.
Here's some other highlights from the Department of Revenue's monthly report:
Sales tax receipts totaled $693.7 million for August, which was $11.4 million above estimate. Sales tax collections, year-to-date, total $1.5 billion, which is $11.5 million above estimate, or 0.8 percent, more than anticipated.
Personal Income Tax (PIT) revenue in August was $651.4 million, which was $16.9 million below estimate. This brings year-to-date PIT collections to $1.3 billion, which is $16.8 million, or 1.3 percent, below estimate.
August corporation tax revenue of $62.3 million was $2.6 million below estimate. Year-to-date corporation tax collections total $160.2 million, which is $0.9 million, or 0.6 percent, below estimate.
Other General Fund revenue figures for the month included $73 million in inheritance tax, which was $8.3 million above estimate, bringing the year-to- date total to $151.7 million, which is $8.3 million above estimate.
Realty transfer tax revenue was $53.1 million for August, bringing the total to $107 million for the year, which is $13.2 million more than anticipated.
Other General Fund revenue including the cigarette, malt beverage and liquor tax totaled $119.6 million for the month, $6.9 million below estimate, bringing the year-to-date total to $243.8 million, which is $2.2 million above estimate.
In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $182.8 million for the month, $17.4 million below estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $375.7 million, which is $17.4 million, or 4.4 percent, below estimate.
The Gaming Fund received $88.6 million in unrestricted revenues for August. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $222.9 million. Gaming Fund receipts include taxes, fees and interest. Of the total for the month, $37.9 million was collected in state taxes for property tax relief, bringing the year-to-date total to $71.9 million.
Other gaming-related revenues collected for August included $4.5 million for the local share assessment, for a total of $8.9 million for the year; $5.6 million for the Economic Development and Tourism Fund, for a year-to-date total of $10.6 million; and $13.4 million for the Race Horse Development Fund, bringing the total for the year to $25.4 million.
I'm not sure what all the gaming mumbo-jumbo means. All I know is that Ed Rendell signed the casino gambling bill into law in July 2005. Here we are 26 months later and not a penny from slots revenue has returned to Pennsylvania residents in the form of promised property tax relief.
Government should not be in the business of making a profit on the backs of taxpayers. It's time for Pennsylvania residents to stage a modern day Boston Tea Party. How about a Philadelphia Tea Party? We can start by tossing Ed Rendell into the Delaware River.
(Cartoon by Vicki Rhodier)