18 May 2007
By now I’m sure that all of you know that the Act 1 tax shift referendum was defeated statewide on Tuesday. Districts rejecting: 494. Districts approving: 4. After all of the time, money, and energy that was wasted by local tax study commissions who were mandated to propose a tax shift plan, the referendum wasn’t just defeated - it was absolutely crushed!
My sincere thanks to all of our supporters who helped to make this happen.
There were many comments from the politicians following this defeat, including one from the Governor that inferred that we were all stupid for rejecting this tax scam, but that’s a topic for another discussion. For the moment it is enough to say that we won by an overwhelming margin and that it’s time to take the next step towards our goal of school property tax elimination.
Act 1 has now failed in achieving three of its four major provisions.
• The backend referendum, which was supposed to allow voter approval on tax increases greater than an inflation-indexed maximum, failed when 210 Pennsylvania school districts were granted exceptions to the referendum by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
• Even though one-time casino licensing fees of $50 million each were collected from a few casinos to boost the pot, there was still no “relief” from gaming money available this year.
• The tax shift referendum was resoundingly defeated.
These failures of Act 1 to deliver on the promised “historic property tax relief” have the Harrisburg establishment in a state of disarray. The members of the legislature, especially those who voted for Act 1, are in “duck and cover” mode trying to avoid the fallout from this debacle.
But nonetheless, there are still those who are apparently trying to follow their own agenda instead of the wishes of their constituents. Here are a few sample comments that were issued by lawmakers after the election:
"Despite the legitimate criticism about some of the shortcomings on the reliance on the school property tax, people, when given a choice, prefer that to the alternatives," said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware.
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, said, "I think the only reform people are interested in is controlling spending and controlling budgets."
"People don't want taxes increased, whether it's property taxes, income taxes, sales taxes. I think the message was no more taxes," said House Minority Leader Sam Smith, R-Jefferson.
I am astonished by the twisted logic that allows these lawmakers to arrive at these strange, sweeping conclusions from such limited data. The defeat of the referendum indicated one thing only: That the voters of Pennsylvania recognized the worthlessness of this law and wanted to send a message that real reform is needed.
Senator Pileggi’s comments seem especially bizarre. By what sort of odd reasoning did he conclude that we prefer property taxes because we rejected the Act 1 referendum?
These people just don’t get it. All of my research and all of the comments I’ve seen indicate that a shift to a broader-based tax is acceptable to the majority of Pennsylvania taxpayers as long as it is fair and completely eliminates school property taxes.
Now it’s up to us to educate the General Assembly.
** ACTION ITEM **
The legislature, because of the defeat of the Act 1 referendum, is vulnerable right now. We MUST let them know that during the 2008 elections we will hold them accountable for their performance on true property tax reform. We MUST send the message that we want school property tax ELIMINATION and no more halfway measures! We WILL make this THE issue for the 2008 elections and woe betide those who refuse to listen to their constituents.
Please begin writing or calling your Senators and Representatives NOW to let them know that you will no longer tolerate their foot-dragging on this issue. Tell them that you will not support them in 2008 if they do not achieve school property tax elimination during this session of the General Assembly. Tell them that you support the Plan for Pennsylvania’s Future to achieve this goal.
You can find your legislators’ contact information here. Enter your Zip+4 in the box in the upper right corner of the page and follow the link that will be provided.
At the very least, PLEASE write to your state Senator and Representative. If you feel particularly ambitious, write to the Governor and other state lawmakers as well. Your help is vitally needed if we are to achieve true and meaningful property tax reform.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
More On The Sales Tax Scam! The Governor is still pushing his plan to increase the sales tax by one percent and use a small portion of this increase for property tax rebates; the remainder would go to the general fund to finance increased spending.
The amount of the rebate per homeowner that was originally announced is about $180.
The average family of four in Pennsylvania spends about 15% of their income on taxable items. You can do the math for your income level, but here’s one example: For a family with a $50,000 annual income, about $7500 is spent on taxable goods. A 1% increase in the sales tax would cost that family an additional $75 each year. Assuming a gross rebate of $180, you would get a net rebate of $105. That will buy you a couple of tanks of gas. How insulting!
Please, Governor Rendell, don’t give us this kind of tax “relief”. We can’t afford it!
That’s all for today. I’ll be sending more information as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, it would be a huge help if you would forward this update to everyone you know. We need as many supporters as possible if we are to get this job done!
Thank you for all of your support and assistance. Together, we will achieve our goal.