Getting what they voted for

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

Council passes new AVI tax rate

It also voted to add a $2-a-pack cigarette tax but needs approval from the state to levy it.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday, 14 June 2013

Troy Graham, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer | Published Friday, June 14, 2013, 3:01 AM

After more than two years of sometimes caustic debate over Mayor Nutter’s property-tax reform effort, Philadelphia City Council set a tax rate under the Actual Value Initiative on Thursday without so much as a whimper of protest.

Instead, the unsolved school-funding crisis remained the topic that drew full-throated public testimony and political speeches.

Council also unanimously passed a $2-a-pack cigarette tax – drawing applause from a gallery of school supporters – but that tax will not take effect without state permission. Winning approval from the Republican-dominated legislature is considered a long shot.

The property-tax bill, approved by an 11-5 vote with Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco absent, sets the tax rate at 1.34 percent of assessed value and allows for a $30,000 homestead exemption. That means the owner of a home worth $100,000 would pay taxes on $70,000 and would owe $938.

Voting against the bill were Democratic Council members Mark Squilla, Kenyatta Johnson, and Bill Green, and Republicans Brian J. O’Neill and David Oh. Squilla’s and Johnson’s districts, which include growing neighborhoods bordering Center City, face some of the biggest property-tax hikes under AVI.

More at the link.1 But the story above is incomplete without reference to an article from yesterday’s Inquirer:

Pa. House approves no-tax-hike budget

The $28.3B, no-tax-hike plan increases funds for education and disabled, enrages Democrats.
Amy Worden, Philadelphia Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau | Published Thursday, June 13, 2013, 3:01 AM

HARRISBURG – The state House on Wednesday approved a $28.3 billion no-tax-hike budget, increasing education funding by $100 million and directing millions more to the disabled.

The 108-92 vote, after five hours of debate, kicks off three weeks of talks with the Senate and the Corbett administration to arrive at a final spending plan.

“This budget is a blueprint for good governance,” said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R., Allegheny). “It does not increase taxes, and provides the highest level of education funding and provides for the most vulnerable.”

Erik Arneson, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), praised the House budget as fiscally responsible.

Again, more at the link.2

Note the subheading, that the budget “enrages Democrats.” Why?

Democrats expressed outrage that the spending plan did not include a provision for Medicaid expansion to cover as many as 600,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians, and leaves cash-strapped Philadelphia schools $304 million in the hole with only $30 million in additional funding.

The City of Brotherly Love wanted a whopping $120 million more from the Commonwealth. As far as the Editor is concerned, if Philadelphia believes it needs more money for their public schools,that’s fine with him, but Philadelphia should come up with that money itself. The city wants a $2.00 per pack additional tax on cigarettes? OK, that’s fine, too, and the state should let them have it. Of course, that will mean that poor Philadelphians will have to pay more to light up (something which doesn’t bother me in the least), and that convenience stores close to the city line will lose sales to stores on the other side of the boundary, as they will be selling cigs for $2.00 (that’s $20.00 a carton) a pack less.

All that means is that the city will be hurting businesses near the city lines, as well as in the inner city. As the city confiscates more of their citizens’ hard-earned money (and welfare checks), those citizens will have less to spend on other things. When a nicotine-addicted father has to give $28 more a week to the city,3 that’s $28 he won’t be spending to put food on his kids’ table, or $112 a month he can’t put toward his rent, or $1,456 a year he won’t have to try to fix up his home, but hey, that’s what his elected representatives have voted for, so the good citizens of Philadelphia are getting exactly what they deserve!

  1. Print edition reference: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday, 14 June 2013, page A-1. Inquirer links are open through the 17th in a sales effort, but may disappear behind a paywall after that date.
  2. Print edition reference: The Philadelphia Inquirer, Thursday, 13 June 2013, page A-1. Inquirer links are open through the 17th in a sales effort, but may disappear behind a paywall after that date.
  3. This assumes a two-pack-a-day habit.

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