Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fastnacht Sale by Mount Penn Fire Company

It's that time of year again.

The Mount Penn Fire Company is hosting its 40th Annual Fastnacht Sale on Saturday, Feb. 2, and Sunday, Feb. 3, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The sale will take place at the fire company at 2711 Grant Street (behind Auto Zone).

You can also stop by the intersection of 23rd and Perkiomen Avenue and pick up your Fastnachts.

This is a great way to support the volunteer firefighters of the community.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Get behind property tax elimination

Check out the latest in the battle to eliminate property taxes in Pennsylvania at my political blog, including this post, "FreedomWorks backs property tax elimination"

Also keep in mind that area lawmakers such as Democrat David Kessler, D-130th Dist., and Republican Doug Reichley, R-134th Dist., do not support Sam Rohrer's plan to end the property tax.

Maybe you should put an end to their political careers on April 22 since they're not listening to the people back home.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Vote For Integrity calls for end of property taxes

To Members and Friends of Vote For Integrity -

If you don't mind paying the regressive, archaic, unfair and ever-increasing school property taxes, don't bother reading this E-mail. If you are willing to take a few minutes and try to be part of the solution to an intractable problem, please consider the following:

The week of January 28, 2008 (next week) may be your last chance this year to help persuade the Political Class leadership of YOUR Legislature to pass an effective bill to eliminate school property taxes.

The Political Class leaders do not want to eliminate school property taxes. They like the current system that allows unpaid and out-gunned district school boards to annually increase your school property taxes to feed the insatiable appetite of the state's Education Establishment and they like the Legislature having the freedom to impose unfunded mandates on local school districts, such as the recent increase of 25% in teachers' pension benefits mandated by the Legislature.

Under the current system, you, the taxpayer, have no vote on these annual school property tax increases, which have recently, on average, exceeded the inflation rate each year. With (a) the recent 25% increase in pensions for teachers mandated by the Legislature, (b) annual salary increases exceeding 4% in most districts , (c) expensive auxiliary and building programs and (d) increases in non-teaching support staff, there is little prospect for these annual increases to cease. This is because, notwithstanding the conscientious efforts of good people, the local control by school district boards has proved largely ineffective in being able to control costs driven by the state-wide Education Establishment.

Classic current example: The Cumberland Valley teachers' union rejected the school board's offer of 4.25% annual increases in salaries - the teachers want 4.9% annual increases. The union spokesman said the possibility of a strike "is being discussed and explored......." as reported in The Patriot-News - 1/24/08.

There is only one bill in the Legislature which, if enacted into law, will eliminate school property taxes. This is House Bill 1275, "The School Property Tax Elimination Act Of 2007". Although this is not a perfect bill, Vote For Integrity supports bringing this bill out of committee and allowing the people through there representatives to consider, amend, if necessary, and vote on the only legislation that will achieve the people's goals of eliminating school property taxes, commencing an effective process to control the ever-escalating costs of education and more fairly distribute tax dollars to school districts on a per student basis.

House Democratic leaders Bill DeWeese, Keith McCall, Josh Shapiro and Representative Levdansky do not want HB-1275 to get a fair vote on the House floor. Instead, they are backing HB-1600 and HB-1489, two tax increase bills which will reduce, but not eliminate school property taxes. Reducing school property taxes just leaves room for further school property tax increases, while the other taxes increased to provide the reduction remain in place. This is another variation of the bait and switch shell game the Legislature tried to perpetrate on the taxpayers with Act 1, which the voters soundly rejected last year.

The Republican leaders Sam Smith and John Perzel also follow the dollars of the special interests and do not want to see school property taxes eliminated by shifting these taxes to another source of revenue, such as a broadening of the base (not an increase in the rate) of the sales tax.

This is now a question of the voters against the special interest and the leadership-controlled House. Only you can make a difference by writing, E-mailing or calling these leaders and demanding their support for the elimination of school property taxes.

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, good government, fair taxation and controlling the always escalating costs of education are in your best interest. Please take action before January 28, 2008 and also demand your local representative to join the fight.

Email addresses and phone numbers for the respective leaders are as follows:

"H. William DeWeese" , - Democrat
Phone (717) 783-3797
"Keith R. McCall" , - Democrat
Phone (717) 783-1375
"David K. Levdansky" , - Democrat
Phone (717) 783-1020
"Josh Shapiro" , - Democrat
Phone (717) 783-7619
"Sam Smith" , - Republican
Phone (717) 787-3845
"John Perzel", - Republican
Phone (717) 787-2016

To find the relevant contact information regarding your representative, please click on the following link:

http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm

If you would like additional information regarding HB-1275, please go to the Pennsylvania Taxpayers' Cyber Coalition's website @ http://www.ptcc.us/

It should take you no more than 10 or 15 minutes to send a brief E-mail to the leaders and your representatives…………please take this small amount of time to help with this important issue.

Thank you,

Ken Schaefer
Chairman,
Vote For Integrity

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Three Pennsylvania newspapers call for elimination of property taxes

Check out the latest on the campaign to eliminate property taxes in Pennsylvania at TONY PHYRILLAS blog.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Berks GOP holds 'Presidential Caucus' Jan. 22

The pundits say the presidential nominees will be picked long before Pennsylvania voters go to the polls on April 22.

If you can't wait to have a say on who the next Republican nominee for president will be, you can vote three months sooner, but it's just for fun.

The Berks County Republican Party has decided to hold its own unofficial "Presidential Caucus and Straw Poll" on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

All Berks County Republicans are invited to participate. For a $10 admission price, you will receive a full meal, beverages and a voting voucher.

By the end of the evening, Berks County may get a sense of who will get its support in the race for the White House.

The event runs from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Leesport Farmers Market on Routed 61.

Although Pennsylvania has a primary election, the county GOP plans to hold an Iowa-style caucus, where groups of voters gather in support of their favorite candidate.

Although the event is open to all Republicans in Berks, you must register in advance. For more information, call the Berks County Republican Committee at 610-374-1111.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bottom line on property tax relief

Pennsylvania lawmakers are stumbling over each other this week to deal with the property tax issue that many legislators and Gov. Ed Rendell claimed was solved in June 2006 when Rendell signed Act 1 into law.

There's a lot of bills floating around and it's easy to get confused.

In fact, confusion is the rule in Harrisburg as lawmakers who ignored property tax relief for years pretend they're the taxpayers' best friend.

Here are key differences between the major plans being offered by House Democrats and House Republicans.

The main plan supported by Democrats, House Bill 1600, would REDUCE property taxes for SOME Pennsylvania homeowners TEMPORARILY in exchange for a permanent hike in the state sales tax and income tax. The bill does not restrict school districts from raising property taxes. (In other words, you might as well turn over the deed to your home to your local school district today.)

The main Republican plan is House Bill 1275. It would ELIMINATE school property taxes for ALL HOMEOWNERS in exchange for an expanded sales tax on clothing, some food items and professional services. It would ELIMINATE property taxes for ALL Pennsylvania homeowners. Separately, House Republicans are also pushing for a REDUCTION in the state income tax.

If you want a temporary lowering of property taxes for some, but want to pay more in sales tax and income tax, HB 1600, sponsored by Rep. David Levdansky, the chairman of the House Finance Committee, is for you.

If you want to STOP PAYING SCHOOL PROPERTY TAXES in return for an expanded sales tax, HB 1275, sponsored by Rep. Sam Rohrer, is for you.

Here's some comments on the competing plans from the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition:
HB 1600: This is the worthless Levdansky/Scavello bill that will raise the sales tax and state income tax to finance a rebate of approximately an average $414. If you don't remember the details, the explanation is here: http://mysite.verizon.net/drbsr/PTCCWeb/HB1600.htm

HB 1489: This is the DeWeese bill that is also known as "HB 1600 Lite." It does not raise the state income tax like HB 1600 but raises the sales tax by 0.5% to finance a small homestead rebate of approximately an average $205. Otherwise the provisions are identical to HB 1600. Reportedly, the governor told the democratic caucus last week that this is the only bill he wants to see approved by the House.

Both of these bills are dangerous pieces of legislation that work on the same principle as the Act 1 tax shift referendum that was so soundly rejected by the voters last May. They permanently raise taxes for a small, temporary rebate that will quickly be eaten away by relentlessly rising property taxes. They do nothing to control costs, address equity for underfunded schools or to solve the education finance crisis. They are WORTHLESS SCAMS that are meant to deceive us unto believing that the politicians have given us property tax "relief" and can be jammed down our throats without any chance for us to reject them. They are simply a PERMANENT TAX INCREASE and must be rejected.

HB 93: This one has slipped under the radar but will still be an issue. The bill provides for the implementation of special tax provisions FOR FIRST-CLASS CITIES ONLY that allow for the refund or forgiveness of property tax liability for certain low-income, disabled, or senior citizens. This is simply more pandering for votes and will take money from property tax relief for other areas of the state.

THE BILL WE SUPPORT, HB 1275, THE SCHOOL PROPERTY TAX ELIMINATION ACT, IS STONEWALLED AND IS NOT SCHEDULED TO BE REPORTED OUT OF COMMITTEE!

Call or e-mail your representative NOW to DEMAND that they support HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, and that they REJECT HB 1600 and HB 1489. Tell them that your vote for them in 2008 will depend on their support of HB 1275.

Ignore any mealy-mouthed excuses that they may offer. Contact information for your representative is available here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm

Monday, January 14, 2008

Time to act on property taxes is now

There's a sense of urgency among taxpayer groups in Pennsylvania. The time to force the Legislature to eliminate property taxes is now.

Here's an e-mail from David Baldinger, Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition administrator:

Dear Friends,

If you want school property tax ELIMINATION and if you have not responded to a PTCC Action Item in the past, RIGHT NOW is the time to do so! This may be our only chance this session to have the School Property Tax Elimination Act passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

It is almost certain that several property tax bills will be reported out of the House Appropriations Committee on Monday (1/14):

HB 1600: This is the worthless Levdansky/Scavello bill that will raise the sales tax and state income tax to finance a rebate of approximately an average $414. If you don't remember the details, the explanation is here: http://mysite.verizon.net/drbsr/PTCCWeb/HB1600.htm

HB 1489: This is the DeWeese bill that is also known as "HB 1600 Lite". It does not raise the state income tax like HB 1600 but raises the sales tax by 0.5% to finance a small homestead rebate of approximately an average $205. Otherwise the provisions are identical to HB 1600. Reportedly, the governor told the democratic caucus last week that this is the only bill he wants to see approved by the House.

Both of these bills are dangerous pieces of legislation that work on the same principle as the Act 1 tax shift referendum that was so soundly rejected by the voters last May. They permanently raise taxes for a small, temporary rebate that will quickly be eaten away by relentlessly rising property taxes. They do nothing to control costs, address equity for underfunded schools or to solve the education finance crisis. They are WORTHLESS SCAMS that are meant to deceive us unto believing that the politicians have given us property tax "relief" and can be jammed down our throats without any chance for us to reject them. They are simply a PERMANENT TAX INCREASE and must be rejected.

HB 93: This one has slipped under the radar but will still be an issue. The bill provides for the implementation of special tax provisions FOR FIRST-CLASS CITIES ONLY that allow for the refund or forgiveness of property tax liability for certain low-income, disabled, or senior citizens. This is simply more pandering for votes and will take money from property tax relief for other areas of the state.

THE BILL WE SUPPORT, HB 1275, THE SCHOOL PROPERTY TAX ELIMINATION ACT, IS STONEWALLED AND IS NOT SCHEDULED TO BE REPORTED OUT OF COMMITTEE!

Floor debate and voting on the bills that are reported out of committee is possible as early as Wednesday (1/16), with final passage possible as early as Thursday (1/17). It appears now that property taxes will be debated and voted without any consideration of HB 1275. This is an absolute travesty that is fueled purely by the political motives of the House majority leadership. This cowardly maneuver will not allow a straight up or down vote on HB 1275 and will again deny true property tax reform to Pennsylvanians.

It is possible that the sponsors of HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, could attach the HB 1275 language as an amendment to any of the worthless bills that will be debated. This will force the legislature to deal with this issue. We'll know in a day or so if this happens.
** ACTION ITEMS **

** First, please immediately forward this e-mail to everyone you know and ask them to participate in this Action Item. We need as many voices as possible NOW.

** Second, call or e-mail your representative NOW to DEMAND that they support HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, and that they REJECT HB 1600 and HB 1489. Tell them that your vote for them in 2008 will depend on their support of HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, whether it is presented as a free-standing bill or as an amendment to another bill. Ignore any mealy-mouthed excuses that they may offer. Contact information for your representative is available here: http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm .

You must take these actions before Tuesday, January 15!

My mood right now is exemplified by the famous line by Peter Finch in the movie Network: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!". All of you should be equally angry with this political smoke-and-mirrors game, too. The Harrisburg politicians have done NOTHING of substance this session and they are about to hand us NOTHING again.

Over 10,000 thousand Pennsylvanians lose their homes to sheriff's sales each year; many more are forced to sell their hard-earned homes because they can't afford the burden of property taxes; schoolchildren in over 100 districts are receiving a marginal education because the residents can no longer adequately support the schools. Literally tens of thousands of Pennsylvania residents are suffering – truly suffering - because of oppressive property taxes, yet the Harrisburg politicians continue to shuffle our lives like pawns on a chessboard while they play their foul political games and pander to the special interests. They ignore our needs and wants; they are despicable and are anything but true representatives of the people. They must do what is right for the people of Pennsylvania or be voted out of office in 2008. They must be told NOW, in the strongest voice possible, that "WE are mad as hell and WE'RE not going to take it anymore!".

This is the time that we have been working towards for the past two years. It is URGENT that we make a strong effort now to ensure that the competing bogus bills do not pass and that HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, is enacted. PLEASE do all that you can during the next few days to involve as many folks as possible in this effort.

Your help now will make a difference in your life and the lives of all Pennsylvanians.

Please write to me with questions or concerns and please feel free to add your comments for everyone to read on the PTCC blog at http://pataxpayers.blogspot.com/2008/01/urgent-action-item.html.

David Baldinger
PTCC Administrator
pataxpayers@gmail.com
http://www.ptcc.us

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pennsylvania lawyers sabotage property tax relief

Why are lawyers attempting to scuttle property tax relief in Pennsylvania? Find out more at the Tony Phyrillas politics blog.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fight for property tax relief

It's now or never. The window of opportunity to get the do-nothing Harrisburg legislators to make property tax reform a priority is closing.

It's time for Pennsylvania homeowners to demand the elimination of property taxes. House Bill 1275 must be voted on by the Pennsylvania Legislature this month. Let your state lawmakers know that their political future is on the line.

Check out the latest information from the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

No action on property taxes by the Legislature

Another year has passed and the Pennsylvania Legislature has failed to address the most pressing issue facing Pennsylvania: Property tax relief.

Read my latest column on the failure of Act 1 and the prospects for passage of House Bill 1275 at the Tony Phyrillas political blog.