Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Keeping Democrats honest

Below is a copy of a letter sent to Rep. Keith McCall, the majority whip in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, from David Baldinger of Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition.

Pennsylvania residents looking for tax reform are getting the sneaky suspicion that the Democrats who control the House are playing the same games that the GOP majority played over the past 12 years. Nothing but lip service and delaying tactics.

McCall and Majority Leader Bill DeWeese have been promising something big on tax reform this fall. So far, nothing has materialized. Baldinger and the various citizen taxpayer groups are not going to allow incumbent legislators to get away another sham effort on the tax relief question.

Lawmakers miscalculated the public's anger on the pay raise issue in 2006. That resulted in 55 legislators forced out of office in 2006.

If the Legislature doesn't deliver genuine property tax relief in 2007, look more a lot more incumbents to join the ranks of ex-lawmakers.

Here's Baldinger's letter:

Dear Representative McCall,

The following quote is from an e-mail House Democratic Update that was issued on August 10 (emphasis is mine):

"What can you look forward to? How about a revolutionary new bipartisan plan to eliminate school property taxes for homeowners?"

This quote was in a subsequent update on October 12:

"House Democrats believe we can and should provide substantial property tax relief for all homeowners. We were proud to lead the fight for property tax cuts through slots and will see that all homeowners receive a share. As the new majority, we intend to act soon on a number of proposals that will benefit all homeowners in a meaningful way."

The latter statement seems to be a significant retreat from the one issued in August; I sincerely hope that this is not an indication that the School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007 is being brushed aside in favor of HB 1600, the Levdansky plan.

I was able to attend two of the recent House Finance Committee hearings on property tax reform (actually thinly-disguised HB 1600 promotions) and saw first-hand how both witnesses and attendees thoroughly condemned HB 1600. Since the purpose of these hearings is to gauge public opinion and the effectiveness of proposed legislation, it would be extremely hypocritical to hold such hearings and then to completely ignore the results in favor of political expediency and pandering to the bill’s author. The results of the hearings are well-known and such a blatant disregard for taxpayers’ wishes that were stated in a public forum will not be forgotten.

Please understand that Pennsylvania homeowners will no longer tolerate useless halfway measures like Act 1 and HB 1600 nor will they accept any two-step plans that serve no purpose but to give false hope and again postpone action through another election. It is a certainty that voters will loudly voice their displeasure if HB 1600 is approved by the House in favor of the SPTEA and true education finance reform is again delayed; we will make every effort to disseminate the facts of this subterfuge as widely as possible.

On behalf of the twenty-three member groups of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations I respectfully request that you and the other leaders of the House Democratic Caucus do whatever is necessary to resolve your differences with the language and philosophy of the SPTEA and have this bill introduced as soon as possible with the full support of the Democratic leadership. We further request that you, like the three co-sponsors who have already withdrawn their names, abandon further support of HB 1600 and any other worthless property tax "relief" measures that do nothing to permanently resolve the education finance crisis.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Very truly yours,

David Baldinger
Administrator, Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition
Spokesperson, Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations

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