Things that don’t compute

Things that don’t compute

State Rep. Elizabeth Fiedler has introduced a joint resolution proposing the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to repeal the Uniformity Clause.

That’s Article VIII, Section 1: “All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.”

Fiedler, a Philadelphia Democrat, citing the leftist Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, says the Keystone State “has the seventh most unfair state and local tax system in the nation.”

Claims Fiedler: “Unfortunately, the Uniformity Clause … prohibits our commonwealth from adopting a more progressive personal income tax.”

Ah, the nub of the rub – “progressivism.” Let’s suck evermore money out of the private economy and hand it over to “The State.” After all, government is such the efficient allocator of scarce resources, right?

Simply put, uniformity is critical to the rule of law. And has been written in many places by a plethora of scholars, a lack of uniformity creates uncertainty by creating much more uncertainty.

And that’s the foundation for instability when it comes to creating sound public policy and facilitating economic vigor.

As one of the wags with whom engagement is regular put it, succinctly:

“This is universally bad for our commonwealth.”

And as Jake Haulk, president-emeritus of the Allegheny Institute, reminded:

“I guess (Fiedler) is unaware of all the special provisions allowed by the (state) Constitution for homestead exemptions and tax relief incentive programs. Look at the tax rate on gaming.

“Pennsylvania’s problem is not an unfair tax system; the problem is the subservient posture relative to unions, especially public-sector unions and crony capitalism,” Haulk says.

The Post-Gazette, in its second editorial on the subject, once again takes House Speaker Mike Turzai to task for seeking to add state oversight to the dysfunctional Allegheny County Airport Authority board of directors.

Opines the P-G:

“It’s a terrible idea partly because of the timing. Enlarging the board invites corruption and political gamesmanship as big-dollar contracts for the airport overhaul are let.”

Conveniently not mentioned:

The board vice-chairman resigned more than a month ago in a huff, a resignation made public a month after the fact, upset that he was being subjected to public scrutiny for his financial conflicts.

The board gave the authority CEO unchecked power to give airlines public subsidies.

The failure and/or underperformance of those given subsidies raises the basic question of what due diligence was performed to determine the recipients’ financial wherewithal.

That $1.1 billion Pittsburgh International Airport overhaul suddenly has a floating price tag.

Not forcing greater accountability on the Airport Authority will only invite similar dysfunction – or worse. Sound public policy demands it.

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