Advertisement

Special session plan an election-year ploy

July 05, 2002|by BOB MAGINNIS

A Northampton County lawmaker's petition for a special session to overhaul Pennsylvania's property tax law may be legal, but considering everything the legislature has done in the heat of election-year pressure, it's probably an unwise move.

Lawmakers have already gone along with Gov. Mark Schweiker's plan to take half the state's Rainy Day Fund and borrow millions more to finance business tax cuts. Now comes Sen. Lisa Boscola, who cited an obscure law that allows lawmakers to petition for a special session.

Lawmakers can't wait until January, Boscola said, because every day they wait, some senior citizen loses his or her home. That's easy to say, but if it were really happening in large numbers, it would be news and those losing their homes would be demanding relief.

That's not to say that some adjustments aren't needed, but under one plan, property taxes would be cut and income taxes increased, so that the state could direct more money to schools. Another idea: A local wage tax and an income-tax hike, to allow the state to shoulder the entire costs of special education.

Advertisement

Several years ago when state lawmakers proposed giving municipal governments the power to change the balance of real estate and income taxes, we warned that there might be unintended consequences. For example, a municipality that opted for higher income taxes and lower property taxes might find itself short of the young workers it needs to attract new industries.

These are the kinds of issues that need to be studied in regard to any proposal to cut taxes. What will be the effect of cutting taxes without also cutting services? And if services are going to be cut, which ones get the ax?

Citizens elect lawmakers to do the hard work of researching these issues, not to rush a tax-cut proposal into law in what seems a lot like an election-year grab for votes. Cut taxes, yes, but do it in a way that does not provide a temporary benefit for some lawmakers at the cost of creating long-term problems for the state.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|