Government abuse of power

Government abuse of power

Not content with attempting to milk in-state turnips and pluck clean in-state golden geese for extra tax revenue, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania now has turned to squeezing out-of-staters.

It was on Sept. 30 that the Keystone State announced it will, beginning in the 2020 tax year, collect (as the Post-Gazette reports it) “corporate income taxes from companies that don’t have offices, employees or property in the state.”

Those businesses will have to pay the tax if they record more than $500,000 in sales in Pennsylvania.

The commonwealth is said to be one of the last states to do such a thing. Well, by gumbo, let’s eliminate one of the few tax advantages that those doing business had here, right?

Speaking of attempted turnip-bleeding and geese-plucking, Gov. Tom Wolf continues his efforts to have a severance tax imposed on the shale gas industry.

That’s despite the fact that the state already collects multiple millions of dollars annually in the form of an impact fee (nearly $2 billion since 2012).

And fears are growing statewide that the governor’s “RestorePa” plan, to where proceeds from any new severance tax would be deposited, will re-direct money from those areas that have been benefitting from the impact fee.

Among those joining that list recently were Ebensburg Borough Councilwoman Cecilia Houser and Ron Aldom, director of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce.

Houser told The Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown that a severance tax has the potential to risk jobs – in, it should be reminded, an industry now struggling with a glut of product that is expected to depresses prices for years.

“Government has the power … to make this a more friendly place to do business,” she said.

More than a few educated observers would consider the government’s casting even farther afar the net to grab ever more corporate income taxes and the misguided mission to enact that shale gas severance tax  as an abrogation of that power.

In neighboring West Virginia, the state Legislature has voted to give all teachers at $500 “attendance bonus” if they call off fewer than four days during the school year.

Come again?

And in Ohio County, the home county to the City of Wheeling, that $500 will be in addition to the $1,350 annual “attendance incentive” already paid. That’s “if they don’t exhaust the number of sick days they have during the year,” reports The Intelligencer of Wheeling.

Come again?

Any employee’s “bonus” for showing up at work should be his or her paycheck. Any “incentive” for showing up at work should be his or her salary.

If West Virginia public school teachers fall ill, they should avail themselves of their sick time, now numbering 15 days for each school year.

If these teachers do not fall ill, they are paid their salary.

Why should any employee be paid extra for not using sick time?

In the strange world of the Government-Public Education Complex, such a practice not only shreds sound business practices but also incentivizes teachers to go to school sick.

Talk about a perverse public policy.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).