Every so often the idea comes up-shifting the school tax burden from property to something else such as the sales tax or the personal or earned income tax. And as quickly as the idea comes up, it goes away quietly without any real action. This year the House Majority Policy Committee resurrected the notion once again through House Bill 1776 that, according to a recent newspaper account, will be introduced sometime in the near future.
Apparently the Post-Gazette editorial board thinks so. They want the Allegheny County legislative delegation to hold firm for the "modest" tax and fee proposals the City wants to enact and, if necessary, hold the state budget process up even longer.
What on earth makes the editorial board think that the County’s delegation is interested in enacting taxes or fees that would fall on their constituents who work in or visit the City? There hasn’t been an outpouring of support for boosting the $52 Local Services Tax to $144. Many in the delegation would fight very hard against such an increase. And if it were to happen it is a certainty that the Legislature would allow it in all classes of municipalities across the state, thus essentially making it a statewide tax increase, the exact thing that legislators are fighting against now with the PIT.
Then too, the Act 47 plan outlines three options for the City to generate more revenue for its pension costs. Taxes and fees are one, but the City can also cut its expenditures or leasing parking garages. Why isn’t the City putting pencil to paper now during the budget impasse to look at the alternatives?
Because the PG thinks that if the Philadelphia delegation can throw its weight around and ask for a sales tax increase (another tax option that, if passed, would likely apply statewide) or pension reform. Do they honestly think that the Legislature would pass on a budget agreement to wait and include a solution for Philly’s problems? Even the Governor would likely not do that.
Pittsburgh received a good deal of attention from the state when its tax reform package was put together in 2004-it is doubtful that the issue will be revisited soon.