May 14, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Two measures dealing with issues that are key to any state budget deal - property taxes and pensions - began moving through the legislature Tuesday, with lawmakers pushing for swift action on both. The House began debate on a multibillion-dollar property-tax relief measure whose prospects are uncertain, while the Senate is poised to vote on a Republican-backed proposal to rein in the cost of public-employee pensions. Both bills are up for final passage Wednesday, after which legislators will break until June, when budget talks with Gov. Wolf will begin in earnest.
April 13, 2015 |
Chester County Republican leaders railed Friday against Gov. Wolf's budget proposal, saying that it would force four-fifths of the school districts statewide to pay more and that county residents would have to shell out $177 million more in new taxes than they might save in property-tax relief. Gathering at the county courthouse in West Chester, the state and county representatives said they might be willing to consider one aspect of Wolf's plan - a severance tax on natural gas drilling that he has said could generate $1 billion for public schools.
March 9, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Gov. Wolf wants to do what no governor has done since President Lyndon B. Johnson was in the White House: Raise the Pennsylvania sales tax. Former Gov. Ed Rendell tried it twice. In 2010, he couldn't even get the state's Democratic-controlled House to go along. Wolf's plan - presented in his budget address last week - goes even farther. Higher sales and income taxes would raise almost $4 billion toward property-tax relief. The proposal calls for hiking the income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent and increasing the sales tax from 6 percent to 6.6 percent.
March 5, 2015
GOV. WOLF'S plans for Pennsylvania are a little like plans for a one-way trip to Mars. Not everybody's ready to sign up. Bold? Sure. Forward-looking? You bet. But like that Mars-or-bust business, pretty expensive, extremely ambitious and unlikely to fly. This is not to say Democrat Wolf's big ideas are bad: Cut the wage tax, cut property taxes, raise the minimum wage, cut business taxes and freeze tuition at state universities. And surely these plans meet Democrat Wolf's favorite self-describing adjective: "different.
March 4, 2015 |
HARRISBURG - Though Gov. Wolf has been working behind the scenes for weeks on his first budget blueprint for the state, legislators and others say his real work is only just beginning. Wolf is scheduled to unveil his multibillion-dollar spending plan at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday before a joint session of the legislature. By all accounts, it will contain several bold - and controversial - proposals, including a package of tax increases and new taxes at levels that haven't been seen in years.
February 9, 2015 |
However history remembers Mayor Nutter, it won't be as a tax warrior. His administration has seen increases in Philadelphia's sales tax, property tax, parking tax, hotel tax, and business use and occupancy tax; the introduction of a city cigarette tax; a suspension of wage-tax reductions; and unsuccessful efforts to raise the tax on alcoholic drinks, create a tax on soda, and even impose the amusement tax on lap dances. The attempted "pole tax" on strippers aside, taxation isn't a sexy subject for those hoping to succeed Nutter.
December 30, 2014 |
It's odd what people recall, but Jeff Westphal, 53, remembers staring at a chopping block in his kitchen when an insight hit him with such force that he changed his entire approach to business. Westphal, chief executive of his family-owned, 900-employee tax software company, Vertex Inc., had come home on a Friday 18 years ago, enthusiastic about taking his family - including three kids, then all under age 6, on an impromptu family camping weekend. His wife objected. Casting her as a stick-in-the-mud, he began his usual approach - a mix of convincing and cajoling.
September 30, 2014
THERE WAS celebration locally last week when Gov. Corbett signed the bill allowing Philadelphia to increase the tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack. Mayor Nutter praised the governor and the Legislature for finally taking action. Schools Superintendent William Hite added his thanks. No one did high-fives, but there was a sense of satisfaction over a mission accomplished. The situation reminds us of the title of the 1960s novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me . The cigarette tax - which will raise the price of a pack by 30 percent - will provide a source of continuing revenue for the financially battered school district.
August 14, 2014
RONNIE Polaneczky's recent column on our ongoing fight to help Philadelphia does little to help those of us fighting to give Philadelphia schools the tools needed to open on time. Instead of enlightening readers on the difficulties we face in educating Philadelphia's 200,000 students, Polaneczky chose to attack the wife of House Majority Leader Mike Turzai as part of an overall assault on the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as we worked to pass enabling legislation for Philadelphia City Council to levy a $2-per-pack cigarette tax to help fund our city's schools.