Thursday, January 17, 2008

Higher park fees a hidden tax on Pennsylvania residents

The state of Pennsylvania spends $70 billion a year. Its general fund budget alone tops $27 billion. What are they spending the money on?

Our roads and bridges are in terrible shape. Our public schools are underfunded. The governor forgot to include any money in last year's budget to clean up hazardous waste sites. We need more police officers. Pennsylvania consistently ranks in the bottom on most state-by-state comparisons of economic vitality and quality-of-life.

State spending has increased by $6 billion since Gov. Ed Rendell took office in 2003. Rendell has also borrowed another $2 billion to fund various programs.

The one area that gets little attention is the fees the state charges, from registering your vehicle to obtaining hunting and fishing licenses to using state parks. They've all gone up since Rendell took office. These are hidden tax increases on Pennsylvania residents.

Here's the latest way Rendell is emptying the pockets of the state's beleaguered taxpayers:
HARRISBURG (AP) — It's costing more to camp and play at Pennsylvania’s state parks.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources increased most fees by about 10 percent at the start of the year.

Camping fees increased by a flat rate. Fees for camping increased from $10 per night for a rustic campsite to $13 a night and from $371 to $408 for a modern cabin that sleeps eight for a week.

Rates are also increasing for boating and picnic pavilions. Officials say Pennsylvania is among the few states that don’t charge a park entrance fee. Pennsylvania has 117 parks.

Officials say the increase is to help pay for maintenance and operation.

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