Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The tax reform treadmill

The House Finance Committee is scheduled to consider several property tax related bills on Wednesday in Harrisburg.

An informed source tells me that the committee, chaired by Rep. David K. Levdansky, a Democrat from Allegheny County, will consider the following bills:

HB 1600. Levdansky took this warmed-over Act 1 bill on the road this summer and had to duck tomatoes from residents in the audience. It's nothing more than a permanent tax increase with a promise of a temporary reduction.

HB 1489. House Majority Leader Bill DeWeese is backing this turkey, which would increase the state sales tax by .5% to raise money for future property tax relief from the tax hike and the casino revenues. Again, another permanent tax increase with a promise of some relief down the road.

HB 125. This is Daryl Metcalfe's bill, which is modeled after the S.T.O.P. Plan to eliminate not only school property taxes, but also county and municipal property taxes. In return, residents will pay higher sales and income taxes. This is such a drastic shift that it has no chance of ever being enacted.

Conspicuously absent is the School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007, endorsed by two dozen citizen taxpayer groups in Pennsylvania. This proposal, formerly known as the Commonwealth Caucus Plan, would replace school property taxes with a higher sales tax and/or income tax.

"Remember The Pay Raise" was the rallying cry that helped oust 55 incumbent state lawmakers in 2006. "Remember the Empty Promises" on tax relief could be the rallying cry in 2008 when all 203 House members and 25 Senate members face the voters.

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