Sunday, November 29, 2015

Recent Commonwealth of Pennsylvania News

           The sales tax increase proposed by Pennsylvania’s Liberal Democratic Governor Tom Wolfe that I posted about earlier this month as part of a proposed deal to balance the Commonwealth’s 2016 budget has been turned down by the negotiators for the Republican-majority General Assembly because of opposition from the public, including from this blog, and fellow conservative legislators.  

           See also my post from March of 2013, The Pennsylvania Houses Passes Liquor Privatization,  The new fiscal year began July 1 without a budget, meaning the Commonwealth lacks sufficient authority to spend money, as Wolfe vetoed a balanced budget approved by the legislature that did not raise taxes and later even vetoed a stopgap measure to continue funding at current levels, which has caused a fiscal crisis for the state, as well as for counties, school districts and municipalities.  The legislators had already declined Wolfes proposed income tax increase and imposition of an additional tax on the natural gas industry.  He did partially accept their key proposal for pension reform.  Negotiations continue to reach a budget deal.   

            Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Senate voted 24-24 for the elimination of school real estate taxes, with liberal Democratic Lieutenant Governor Michael Stack casting a tie-breaking vote against the bill.  The vote was the closest the Senate has ever come to the total elimination of the onerous taxes.  The revenue-neutral bipartisan measure would have exchanged school real estate taxes for higher sales and income taxes.  Unlike the proposed budget, however, it would not have resulted in a net tax increase for the average homeowner.

            Wolfe signed into law a bill approved by the GOP-led legislature along mostly party lines that eliminates the exemption from prosecution for harassment, stalking and the like for labor union members during labor disputes.  

           The state House of Representatives again has passed a bill to end the Commonwealth’s wholesale and retail monopoly on alcohol, but Wolfe still supports the state’s socialist system and its Prohibition vestiges that were intended to keep the purchase of alcohol as difficult as possible, even though privatization would help balance this year’s budget with the sale of licenses, as well as future budgets through license renewals and the continued collection of taxes on wine and liquor, which would likely increase if privatization results in better selection and thus less revenue loss to border states, which turns many thousands of otherwise law-abiding Pennsylvanians, sometimes unwittingly, into bootleggers.  Privatization would also end the Commonwealth’s conflict of interest in selling alcohol while regaling its use.

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