Rendell: Tighten Your Belt

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Governor Ed Rendell is insisting taxpayers further "tighten their belts" while the government waistline continues to expand.

The Pennsylvania Governor is suggesting a 16.5% personal income tax increase to help narrow the 3.25 billion dollar budget deficit created by overspending on government programs. Rendell’s proposed PIT hike is, selfish, irresponsible, and outright dangerous for the future of Pennsylvania.

The proposed raise in personal income taxes, coming from a man who has increased state spending over 40% since taking office six years ago, has remained a fierce point of contention for Senate Republicans who don’t believe in raising taxes on families during an economic downturn.

But how can we expect a man who lives in the Governors mansion with such luxuries as a personal chef, maid, and chauffeur to have any idea about the everyday reality most Pennsylvanians face? Who other than those already losing jobs, benefits, overtime, and pensions to be called on for more sacrifice? I suppose it would only make sense that the Governor should expect these same hard working Pennsylvanians to cover his budget shortfall through raising the PIT for a second time during his stay in office. Which under his leadership will have seen an increase of a whopping 28% since 2003.

The Republican Senate favors a more logical alternative to raising taxes by reducing short term government spending, a plan Rendell refuses to comply with. It seems the governor is closely following the Obama pattern of tax and spend in a time of recession which has so far lead the United States to it’s highest unemployment level in twenty six years.

Republicans hold that if substantial cuts to government programs can be made now, raising taxes will not be necessary this year, or in the future. But to Rendell a new stream of tax revenue is inevitable to keep his steady pace of spending up another 2.5 % this year. The reason Rendell is so urgent in wanting to raise taxes now rather than next year is because many democrats will be facing re-election, creating a major political obstacle with potential to seriously endanger the democrats five seat majority in the House.

The consequences of his proposed PIT hike, in addition to the recent 400 million payroll tax issued to pay down the states unemployment fund, will be detrimental to small business employers. According to the Pennsylvania Business Council the tax will result in an estimated loss of 24,000 jobs. As business revenues decline it leaves less money to pay employees, purchase supplies, or hire new workers, eliminating any real possibility for economic growth. This will force small business, accounting for over half of the private sector, to either close or seek a less expensive state to operate in.

The Senate’s budget proposal, shaving a total of 1.7 billion dollars from government programs, has been shanghaied in a House committee since early May despite missing the voting deadline of June 30. The democratic House majority has intentionally delayed the proposal from reaching the floor for fear of it being passed without the Rendell tax hikes. The stalemate between Rendell and Senate Republicans has become increasingly dire these last days, as the governor threatens to withhold state workers pay until a resolution is reached. Rendell’s intention is to increase pressure on Senate Republicans to pass a budget plan that includes his 16.5% raise in PIT. The governor, in the most simplest terms, is using state employees, many of whom that are living paycheck to paycheck and trying to support families, as fodder for budget negotiation.

Rendell’s outright refusal to cut liberal spending while raising taxes will lead to nothing more than government expansion at the expense of Pennsylvania’s workers, businesses, families, and ultimately, its prosperity.