Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What should we do?

I have started, and not finished, two other posts here. I haven’t fully thought through what I want to say on those topics (both roughly about environmental concerns), but right now it seems important to look seriously at the amended Act 47 plan.

Of course, I did no reading tonight, while we waited to see if a tornado would land nearby. But I am aware of what happened today in Council’s chambers. Over on the Pittsburgh Comet Bram seems in favor of trying to renegotiate the amended plan, to limit the tax increases on Pittsburghers and I am not sure what all else (have the State pool municipal pension plans? Unless we get money from the State or other cities in the deal, why?).

But lets look at this. Actually I want to step back, and look at how the State is talking about raising the income tax a half percent and cutting services by something like 200 million. My feeling is that if we charge in and demand to be allowed to tax commuters while we dodge any taxes on ourselves, the State legislature wll not be amused.

But let’s say we raise the local income tax by a half percent. Let’s say we ask the State Legislature to waive the rule this time that says we can’t take a tax windfall when the County gets around to reassessing. That’s two significant tax increases on City residents. The we could to go to the State and asked for the freeze on the parking tax, a payroll preparation tax on non-profits, and a more measured increase in the local services tax, say 2 dollars a week for people making over $24,000, the same dollar a week for people making between $12,000 and $24,000 and still allowing people making under $12,000 to pay nothing. Now the State would be presented with a Pittsburgh that was making efforts to be responsible in terms of revenue. The State legislature could require all of the LST go towards either pension or debt, and the same with the tax on non-profits (we could propose it).

That is the way we should approach the State and this whole amended Act 47 plan. By doing a lot ourselves and then asking the State for help.

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