Tuesday, June 13, 2006

171: “Are You Kidding Me?”


We certainly expected better from Jeff Piccola (R-Dauphin). He and fellow State Senator Joe Conti (R-Bucks) called a press conference to release their “plan” for property tax reform.

In a nutshell, they want to increase the number of items taxed under the State Sales and Use Tax (SUT) to raise $2 billion to be applied for property tax relief, and to allow for mandatory voter approval for increases in property taxes effective in 2008 IF property taxes are still around! They then toss in about $9-11 billion from the new Gambling industry to supply any amount required to fill the gap in tax revenues.

It was almost enough to make us laugh, if it hadn’t been so patently absurd. New? Hardly. This is simply one of the “plans” argued in the General Assembly earlier this year. Please note it was never proposed as a bill, and that’s a good thing.

The current property taxes in Pennsylvania supply about $12 billion in revenues. So a $2 billion shift to the SUT will only result in about a 16% decrease in Property Taxes – if the proceeds are split proportionately and not geographically. In other words, if they give every person who pays property taxes a 16% decrease that would be proportional. If they divvy up the proceeds geographically, which is VERY possible since they want to modify school funding so that areas with lower tax bases get a minimum amount. [A purely liberal effort at redistributing the wealth of Pennsylvanians.]

If Conti and Piccola think the Gambling Industry will be providing $9+ billion dollars per year starting in 2008, they are delusional. We think they do not believe it, and are simply running an idea up the flagpole to see who salutes. All this amounts to is another thin disguise for the much reviled and overwhelmingly rejected Act 72 of 2004. 80% of the school districts in the state rejected the plan a year ago. No one likes it. Rendell keeps pushing it.

Obviously, Piccola and Conti have turned a deaf ear on the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Reformers out here. Or, they are deceiving themselves. But they are not deceiving more than a few others.

This move qualifies Conti and Piccola for Business as Usual RINO status!

While this is going on there are several pieces of legislation regarding school and other local taxes being maneuvered through both houses.

Between the Democrats in the General Assembly and in the Governor’s Mansion, and the RINOs in the General Assembly, the plan is to extract every penny they can from you, either by taxation, or through gambling in order to fund their bloated government.

The worst piece of fraud ever perpetrated on the citizens of this Commonwealth is the gambling bill of 2004. The money the state derives from this corruption-ridden piece of legislation has been promised three or four times over. Even what was promised the first time will never be realized.

Should the expansion of gambling ever come about in Pennsylvania, it will extract from Pennsylvanians money they cannot afford in a vain attempt to fund Rendell’s expanded government. Do not think for one moment that out of state gamblers will pour billions into our coffers. Out of state gamblers will be a large number at first and then will dwindle to a trickle. And the higher gasoline prices go, the fewer out of state gamblers there will be.

Another reason why casino gambling will fail in Pennsylvania is the fact that the state is physically surrounded by states that either already have at least slots at the tracks or full fledged gambling (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia) or states that are on the verge of enacting their own gambling laws to allow slots parlors and or casino gambling (Ohio, Maryland). For people in Western Maryland it is far easier to visit Charlestown, West Virginia than it will be to come to Gettysburg. Only people from western New Jersey will bother to come to the casinos in Philly, Allentown, Bethlehem, or the Poconos. Very few will make the drive from Ohio to Pittsburgh to visit their slots parlors.

The promises of casino gambling in Pennsylvania will never be realized as far as state government, and tax payers go. The few investors in any of the casino projects that are from Pennsylvania will get rich, slowly, and there will be some money that goes to the state.

Is it worth all the risk and trouble to see dollars get sucked out of the state’s economy (and out of the state altogether!) by the billions while Pennsylvanians still struggle to pay taxes and get ahead in an economy where schools simply do not get enough money?

Not on your life!


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