Pennsylvania Tea Party Victory? Not Quite, Sadly

I don’t know if any of the legislators pushing this agenda consider themselves Pennsylvania Tea Party or not, but the agenda certainly seems Tea Party friendly at first glance.


Fox News reported,

One year and five months — that’s how long bipartisan legislation that would eliminate school property taxes in Pennsylvania has been stuck in the Pennsylvania Senate’s Finance Committee.

“It seems like we’ve been pushing it for years,” said state Sen. David Argall, the Schuylkill County Republican who is one of the main sponsors of Senate Bill 76.

Argall and other advocates of the bill earlier this summer acknowledged it doesn’t have the support to emerge from committee. That’s kept it from a full floor vote. Yet Argall’s still confident property tax elimination advocates can claim victory this year, even if the bill is never voted out of committee.

There’s a simple strategy taking shape — just amend the legislation into another bill that’s already ready for a floor vote. Talks with chamber leaders have already identified possible vehicles, Argall said.

“I believe we have the votes we need on the floor,” Argall said.

So what’s not to love?

Not until the very last paragraph of the story do we learn that the elimination of property tax includes a higher income tax and an expansion of the state sales tax. Raising the sales tax is especially regressive (the income tax scheme may also be regressive but I can’t say for sure yet). People in poverty pay a far higher percentage of their income in sales tax than the wealthy do.

This is just another “revenue neutral” scheme. As I have complained before, “Whenever anyone suggests a tax cut, the response is always that the cut must be ‘revenue neutral’—that a reduction in taxes in one area must be balanced with a tax increase somewhere else.”

Revenue neutral is not good enough! In our collapsing economic system it amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. What we want is a real reduction in spending that also reduces taxes so that society is permitted to keep the resources to rebuild the economy and to prosper.