Friday, November 10, 2006

Tony Phyrillas: Rendell develops amnesia on property taxes

I warned you about Ed Rendell. In fact, I gave you 33 reasons why he did not deserve re-election. But did you listen? Nooooo! More than 2.4 million of you decided it was a good idea to give Rendell another four years to tax and spend Pennsylvania into the poor house.

Are you having second thoughts yet? If not, consider this.

The day after the Rendell landslide, the governor held a press conference to discuss his second-term agenda. What hot issues will Rendell tackle in 2007? He mentioned education, economic development, mass transit funding, term limits for the state Legislature and campaign finance reform.

Conspicuously absent from the governor's list of priorities was property tax relief.

That's right. The No. 1 issue that voters want addressed escaped the governor's mind.

This is the very same governor who promised four years ago to cut everyone's property tax bill by 30 percent while standing on his head. The very same governor who called for a special session of the Legislature last September to deal with property tax relief.

The very same governor who has tried all kinds of parlor tricks (Act 72, Act 1, Slot Machines) to distract Pennsylvania taxpayers from the fact that he has failed to deal with the issue.

Now that he's been re-elected, Rendell doesn't even want to discuss property taxes. Feeling duped?

Get ready for four more years of tax hikes. Rendell will push for an increase in the sales tax, the income tax and the gas tax in 2007. Get set for more spending. And brace yourself for more borrowing.

Right before the election, a report came out that Pennsylvania's debt has risen to $10 BILLION. It went up by $4 BILLION under Gov. Rendell. This is on top of record spending by Rendell, which has brought the state budget to $26.1 BILLION. Pennsylvania is spending a twice the rate of inflation. And we're deeper in debt. That is Rendell’s legacy. We are going to be paying for Rendell's spending for generations to come.

And this Monday, the long-awaited report on the state of Pennsylvania's transportation infrastructure comes out. Interesting how the report is being released a week after the election.

The report will say that Pennsylvania needs to find billions more each year to fix its roads and bridges. And if you've been listening closely to Rendell, the state needs to find a dedicated source of revenue to subsidize mass transit in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Translation: Get ready to pay more at the pump. Pennsylvania's gas tax will be going up.

In the meantime, get in touch with Rendell and remind him that he still works for you. Here's where to call or write: Gov. Edward G. Rendell's Office, 225 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg, PA 17120. Call Rendell at 717-787-2500. You can leave an e-mail for him at the state's Web site, www.governor.state.pa.us

Tony Phyrillas is a columnist for The Mercury in Pottstown, Pa. E-mail him at tphyrillas@pottsmerc.com