1.25% Sales Tax Hike to Benefit Philadelphia


The framework is there for a new Pennsylvania budget, months after it should have been passed in mid-summer, but the devil is in the details, especially as it relates to the final increase in the sales tax in Philadelphia. If approved as is, Pennsylvania would have the second highest state sales tax, after California, jumping from 6% to 7.25%.

It is still subject to negotiations, but the options include giving Philadelphia the ability to use some of the new revenue raised by a statewide sales tax increase intended for property tax reductions, and swap them to mitigate the city sales tax hike.

Let me get this straight…

Philadelphia has been mismanaged for decades (by Democrats), to the point that they have a higher sales tax than the entire state to make them a couple of extra bucks for squandering. A point and quarter increase would get them to 9.25%, tied for third nationally as the highest.

This is apparently one tax hike the Democrats don’t like.

So instead, people in the other 66 counties that aren’t nearly as screwed up, kick in a forecasted $2 billion dollars – some of which (who knows how much) then goes BACK to Philly to help them do what? Cut their sales tax rate?

When Philly gets their tax break (really), THEN we get to help pay for schools. But not really. Because every year the PSERS pension benefits increase OBLIGATING school districts to raise property taxes to balance their budgets. (Thanks Tom Ridge and early 2000s Harrisburg!)

So we end up with higher sales taxes and schools still begging for help.

The only sensible idea floated lately was that all new hires would be getting a 401K style program with small employee contributions. You know, just like everyone not in a government job. But even that’s only a baby step. The employees in the state retirement system are still working! So their contribution obligations wouldn’t change, and the whole program is massively underfunded. Even selling the liquor stores probably wouldn’t fill that hole in.

By the way, this new 7.25% tax rate would be second only to California.
Hello tax-free Delaware shopping (for those of us close enough or passing through).

Are these guys for real with this?

November 11, 2015 at 6:12 pm Comments (0)

Budget Deal Reached?

Of course…

The deal would call for raising the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7.25 percent, Corman said. That would create about $2 billion in new revenue, which could cover a major property tax reduction and permit the state to increase basic education funding by $350 million in the current fiscal year. Special education would receive an additional $50 million in funding as well, Corman said.

Wolf’s spokesman, Jeff Sheridan, said Republican leaders had agreed to a larger education package: an additional $50 million more for prekindergarten this year, as well as $300 million combined for basic education, special education, and prekindergarten next year.

I posted on Facebook months ago that some Republicans would cave and “compromise” on a tax hike of “only” $X.

Splitting the difference, then they would turn around and say “see? it could have been much worse, we’re saving you money!”

If this deal is true, that’s going to be the pitch tomorrow or the next day.

November 9, 2015 at 11:22 pm Comments (0)

LOL, Again

My heart really weeps here…

An annual Pennsylvania tradition may take a backseat to state budget negotiations.

Every December, the commonwealth’s top politicians head to New York City to see and be seen at a long weekend of fundraisers, parties, and one swanky gala collectively referred to as Pennsylvania Society. But some are already talking about skipping the trip if the state doesn’t have a budget by the Dec. 12 main event.

“There’s no way we should be going to New York City, and going and celebrating Pennsylvania Society week, unless we have a budget done,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny. “I mean I’ve been someone who’s gone there many years, I will not be there unless we have this budget completely resolved.”

“It would look like what it is – out of touch with where Pennsylvanians are,” said Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia. “You’re going to a big old party in New York City and schools are closing.”

They’ve been off for two weeks, completely un-coincidentally around election time. Heaven forbid they take another few days off for Pennsylvania Society.

November 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm Comments (0)

Wolf Protested Over Budget


The appearance of diametrically opposed sides and the tension of how it was all going to play out almost made the visit of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Gov. Tom Wolf an afterthought Saturday.

As a flatbed truck sat in the middle of Veterans Square Saturday afternoon, the scene was mostly quiet until about 10 minutes before the elected officials were anticipated to arrive.

That’s when a throng of about 60 people rounded the corner and made their way near the stage.

They held signs held high on sticks, reading, “Don’t you have a budget to pass?,” “A creep in a Jeep,” “Non-profits deserve to be paid,” “Do Not Raise our Taxes” and “Can I please have my book?”

One person who declined to identify himself except to say he was a “wolf” in sheep’s clothing held a sign saying, “I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff and I’ll Blow Your School Down.”

November 2, 2015 at 10:46 am Comments (0)

Philly Papers to Merge

Long overdue.

The newsrooms of the Inquirer, Daily News, and will merge, the publisher of the papers told reporters today, part of a radical restructuring of parent company Philadelphia Media Network that will include job reduction in “every area” of the company, the city’s biggest news organization.

The Inquirer and Daily News will continue to publish as separate newspapers, however. Stan Wischnowski, the vice president of news operations for PMN, will reportedly be in charge of the combined newsroom.

It’s amazing that these papers have been separate for as long as they have.

It’s only a matter of time before they stop publishing one.
Maybe an Inquirer on the weekends, and a tabloid style Daily News during the week?

Something like that.

October 30, 2015 at 3:28 pm Comments (0)

Runaway Military Blimp Floating Over Pennsylvania

A blimp associated with NORAD’s surveillance of the East Coast has become untethered from its mooring in Maryland and it’s now flying over Pennsylvania, according to NORAD spokesman Lt. Joe Mavrocki.

Two F-16s scrambled from the New Jersey National Guard are tracking the JLENS aerostat, a Pentagon official said, after the aircraft came loose from its mooring station in Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, just outside of Washington.

I have so many questions. How does a military blimp get loose? How do they plan on catching it? Can I see it?

Latest update has 20,000 without power in Bloomsburg, amid reports the blimp has taken out power lines. It also appears to be dragging a cable. This sounds a lot like chasing a puppy that’s dragging it’s leash.

Good news though! Governor Wolf is “carefully monitoring” the situation. Can’t get the state a budget, but maybe he can wrangle a blimp.

October 28, 2015 at 4:00 pm Comments (0)

Twenty Seven. Twenty Seven Billion.

In a row.

When the government is shutdown, it does not mean what you think.

Since July, Pennsylvania has spent $27 billion — without a state budget.

Even many insiders didn’t know it.

“It floored me,” said Rep. Chris Dush, R-Jefferson County, who filed a request under the Right-to-Know Law to obtain the information.

The Department of Treasury confirmed the number Tuesday, the 119th day of a budget impasse. The amount is almost comparable to the state operating budget for a year, but it involves state and federal dollars, and special fund expenditures such as Pennsylvania Lottery winnings and property tax relief from state-regulated casinos.

$27 Billion over 119 days is $226 million a day, for 365 days it’s $82.5 billion.

By way of comparison, we spent $86 billion in 2014.

October 28, 2015 at 12:26 pm Comments (0)

House & Senate Caucuses: Broke

The now 119-day state budget impasse has gone on so long that all four legislative caucuses have exhausted their oft-criticized legislative reserves.

With no more financial cushion, the House and Senate Republican and Democratic caucuses have had to identify an alternative funding source to keep the legislative branch open for business for the duration of the impasse.

On Friday, the Senate Republican and Democratic caucuses joined their House Republican colleagues in what some suggest might be an unprecedented move of borrowing money to cover payroll and other costs associated with their operation.

Man, I’m really feeling bad for those guys. It’s almost like they have to budget like real people and real families.

How come I don’t read any stories about the Executive Branch crying poor?

October 27, 2015 at 6:59 pm Comments (0)


That 41 Republicans signed the recent discharge petition to resurrect the zombie Export-Import bank is beyond maddening. The Pennsylvania Republicans joining with the Democrats in this effort are Mike Kelly, Glenn Thompson, Ryan Costello, Tom Marino, Lou Barletta, and Charlie Dent.

Hearts and minds are gradually persuaded from one ideology to another in part via… [-ahem-] water cooler talk. When my coworkers accuse the GOP of looking out for corporate interests at the expense of everybody else, it’s policies like the Ex-Im bank that increasingly make me shrug my shoulders. It’s hard to defend a party that’s supposed to be for free markets when it clearly isn’t for free markets.

Ex-Im is not good policy. It is not good politics. Democrat-lite doesn’t cut it.

October 12, 2015 at 11:29 am Comments (0)

Electric City Electrified by Investment Returns

Wall Street Journal

An effort to turn this city into a rival of Hollywood isn’t turning out quite as planned.

A decade ago, Lackawanna County’s governing commission invested $500,000 to help the actor Paul Sorvino produce and direct a movie called “The Trouble With Cali” in Scranton, the county seat. The idea was to promote the city of 75,000 as a lower-cost alternative to Los Angeles or other big cities for film production.

Mr. Sorvino, whose many roles have included a mob boss in the Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas” and a police sergeant in the television series “Law & Order,” proved less adept as a director than he had as an actor.

This made me LOL

In return for its $500,000 investment, which covered a large share of the production costs, the county received three Blu-ray discs of the movie, which officials promise will be available soon at the Scranton library.

July 21, 2015 at 11:19 pm Comment (1)

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