26 June 2006
There’s not a lot of earth-shattering news in this edition, but there is a lot of good information that might be of interest to you.
I’m happy to report that the membership of this list has increased by almost fifty involved taxpayers during the past week. If you know of anyone who is concerned about the issue of property tax reform, please have them join the list by sending an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s also gratifying to note that the statewide alliance membership has increased to seventeen taxpayer advocacy groups. You can see the complete list here. The alliance is building momentum quickly, and has the potential to become a major political force for the taxpayers of Pennsylvania.
On Thursday (6/22), Quinnipiac University released its latest poll of Pennsylvania residents. A brief synopsis of the questions regarding property tax reform is posted below. The University’s press release and complete detailed poll results are available here.
Our cause has gotten a lot of help from the press during the past few days.
Tony Phyrillas of the Pottstown Mercury, a very vocal supporter of our position, had a scathing column on Friday (6/23).
Vic Lawson of the Bradford County Concerned Citizens (BCCC), a member of the statewide alliance, sent this E-mail to his group’s membership regarding a piece in Sunday’s (6/25) Allentown Morning Call. It emphasizes an aspect of HB39 that few people have thought about.
We've been saying for a long time now that the expected revenues from slot machines just won't happen (possibly $250 million) and to compound the problem, HB39 authorizes borrowing $200 million from the lottery funds that are used to fund seniors programs. That will mean cutbacks in senior programs "IF" it happens, and knowing our state government, whatever is borrowed from the lottery funds will never be paid back. When the expected $1 billion never happens, we'll end up with full blown casino gambling everywhere in Pennsylvania. Rendell has pushed for full blown riverboat gambling on the Delaware River ever since he was mayor of Philly so he should be very happy at the prospect that HB39 is doomed to failure.
It's up to every BCCC member in Bradford County and concerned citizens all over Pennsylvania to make sure all seniors in Pennsylvania are informed that HB39 is a total fraud, that they will never see property tax relief that will even come close to the property tax increases they'll be seeing before HB39 begins. Seniors must realize HB39 is nothing but a blatant attempt to "BUY" their votes in November. The article from "The Morning Call" newspaper (below) is exactly what's going to happen in Pennsylvania. Legislators that voted for HB39 will tell you it was better than no property tax relief at all so they caved in and voted YES. Start adding up your property tax increases now and compare the total to the "relief" you get from HB39 some day. People in the Wyalusing school district can start with their recently enacted 11% property tax and double occupation tax increase.
Although the tax reform issue has been getting a lot of good press, there are still a number of Pennsylvania newspapers that have given no coverage to the alliance’s work even though they received the alliance’s initial press release last week. If you have the time, a call to your local newspaper asking them to cover this story may be of help. If you need a copy of the alliance’s press release, please let me know.
Finally, I received an E-mail from one of this list’s subscribers who is an over-65 taxpayer who commented, “I keep reading HB39 was done to favor the seniors. Well here's one senior, 69, who isn't happy with HB 39”. He has asked me to do a short, admittedly unscientific, poll of the list members. If you’d like to participate, please respond to this E-mail. I’ll publish the results in a later release.
1) If you are over age 65 or very close to that age, are you satisfied with the relief that HB39 (the recently passed property tax relief bill) will give you?
2) For all list members: Elimination of property taxes must involve a tax shift. If you favor the elimination of ALL school property taxes, how would you prefer to be taxed instead?
A) A straight increase in the sales tax
B) A straight increase in the state income tax
C) An earned income tax (EIT) locally administered by your school board
D) A blended tax such as, but not limited to, the Commonwealth Caucus Plan, which decreased the sales tax to 5% on a broadened base, increased the income tax by 1/2%, and increased the real estate transfer tax by 2%
3) For all list members: Do you favor a sales tax on services, such as attorney’s fees (but NOT medical services)?
4) For all list members: Do you favor the elimination of the taxing ability of local school boards?
Please feel free to add your comments to your response. The results will be tabulated and sent to our Pennsylvania legislators. All of your answers and comments will be kept strictly confidential.
That’s it for today. In the future I’ll be limiting these E-mails to no more than once a week unless there is an action item or something urgent. I don’t want to oversaturate this list or your patience and definitely don’t want to be a spammer.
As usual, please forward this E-mail to anyone who might be interested and encourage them to join this list by sending an E-mail to email@example.com.
Thank you very much for your continuing support.