July 12, 2014
ISSUE | PA. BUDGET Bad tax habits An additional $2 tax per pack of cigarettes would be a huge mistake ("Endless summer," July 10). Such a tax would add more than $700 a year for a one-pack-a-day smoker. Yes, it would encourage some smokers to quit or reduce their habit. But most would suck it up; such is the addictive grip of smoking. Instead of enacting a more fair and equitable increase in the income tax, or even the sales tax, the smoking tax also would be highly regressive.
July 11, 2014 |
THE MARLBORO Man and Joe Camel helped push into legislative limbo a new $2-per-pack tobacco tax in Philly that would help to fund the city's public schools. Harrisburg lobbyists for the nation's largest cigarette company, the Altria Group - maker of the Marlboro, Parliament and Virginia Slims brands - initially had opposed the tax altogether. A lobbyist for the nation's second-largest cigarette company, R.J. Reynolds - maker of Camel, Pall Mall and Kool brands - also was involved in the effort.
July 8, 2014
AFTER THE Legislature passed a bill last week giving Philadelphia the right to impose a $2-a-pack cigarette tax to raise money for the city's schools, Gov. Corbett took a moment to congratulate himself. "We have worked for over a year, above the partisan politics, to put the students of Philadelphia first," Corbett told reporters. We don't know whether to laugh or to cry. In fairness, we don't know exactly what the governor means by putting the students of Philadelphia first.
July 3, 2014
IN 1993, Bill Clinton was president, "Seinfeld" was on TV and a cellphone was the size of a brick. It was also the last time that Congress raised the federal gasoline tax, which pays for roads, bridges and public transit. Over two decades, the cost of building and maintaining the nation's transportation infrastructure has gone up significantly, while the tax designed to fund the work has stayed flat: Drivers still pay 18.4 cents per gallon at the pump for gasoline and 24.4 cents for diesel.
June 19, 2014
THE ILLUSTRATED graphic that the School District of Philadelphia is distributing, which depicts in simple terms what will happen without additional money, is ingeniously simple - and a mark of how desperate the district truly must be. The drawings are what you might find in a book for fourth-graders - simple, yet perhaps right on the mark in terms of addressing the comprehension levels of its audience, which is lawmakers at both the city and state...
June 12, 2014
J ONATHAN BARSADE, 52, of Wynnewood, is founder and CEO of Exactor, an online provider of tax-compliance solutions for firms that do business in multiple states. Barsade, a former tax lawyer, started Exactor in 2006. He invested more than $1 million to get the business running. Exactor has 25 employees, mostly in Philly and Miami, and 5,000 clients. Q: How did you come up with the idea for Exactor? A: My background is as a tax attorney and I published a lot about the borderless environment the Internet was creating and e-commerce was still nascent.
May 24, 2014 |
What a difference eight little words make. Last week, City Council was accused of introducing a bill that jeopardized the money raised from Philadelphia's extra 1 percent sales tax, a desperately needed source of revenue for the schools. The legislation staked out Council President Darrell L. Clarke's position: The extra sales tax revenue, expected to be about $137 million next year, should be split evenly between the school district and the city's public employee pension system.
May 23, 2014 |
FOLLOWING intense criticism, City Council President Darrell Clarke agreed yesterday to add a "safety-net" provision to legislation that would extend a city sales-tax increase so that, even if state lawmakers don't act on the issue this spring, the tax would be extended and the School District of Philadelphia would get $120 million next year. "What we can't do is allow ourselves to be in a position that if there are some changes in the existing state provision or some changes in the proposal that we put forth, that we're not in a position to take advantage of the extension of the sales tax," Clarke told reporters after Council's regular session yesterday.
May 17, 2014 |
With six weeks left to pass a budget, City Council on Thursday finally introduced long-expected legislation to extend Philadelphia's extra 1 percent sales tax. In the first year, the bill would devote $120 million to the schools, money the district has been counting on to help close a huge funding gap. Any extra revenue would go to the public-employee pension system, which is about $5 billion underfunded. But over the next three years, the pension system's share of the revenue generated by the additional penny in the sales tax - which in 2015 is expected to bring in an extra $137 million - would steadily increase, until the fourth year, when it would be split evenly between the schools and the city.
May 1, 2014
NEARLY two weeks ago, we asked where the urgency was on the response to the School District of Philadelphia budget woes from the city and the state. That includes the budget woes for the current school year, which the district anticipates ending with a $29 million deficit. Last week, the district released its budget for next year, and the shortfall is now $216 million - and that's just to keep treading water. That doesn't include building the district with more programs that Superintendent William Hite wants to add to actually improve education.