Prospects appear dim for Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed 1 percent sales tax increase, according to several local lawmakers.

At least four believe that the proposal as outlined by Rendell is dead because of a widespread lack of support.

As part of his proposed $27.3 billion budget, Rendell is hoping the state Legislature will approve a state sales tax increase for the first time in 39 years, bumping the tax from 6 percent to 7 percent in most places.

About 40 percent of the $1.246 billion in new revenue would go toward expanding the $1 billion a year in property-tax reductions that slot-machine gambling is eventually expected to generate; the rest would be used to finance other state programs.

The increase would not expand the sales tax to items other than those currently taxed.

A failure to get a sales tax increase approved by the Legislature would likely spell doom for many of the new programs, or program increases, in Rendell's proposed budget, which includes significant increases in welfare spending and in education.

No chance: State Sen. Gib Armstrong, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said there is a little support in either chamber for any type of sales tax increase.

"I think it's dead in the water," said Armstrong, a Republican who represents 10 eastern York County municipalities. "There's just no appetite for raising taxes at all.


Advertisement

"

Armstrong said he would try to block any bill that includes a sales tax increase by not putting it on the agenda for a vote before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Some House members from York County have a different take on the viability of a sales tax increase.

State Rep. Bev Mackereth, R-Spring Grove, agrees with Armstrong, and says there's virtually no momentum behind an increase in the sales tax the way it's proposed by Rendell.

But she and Reps. Keith Gillespie, R-Springettsbury Township, and Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township, say the sales tax would have a much better chance, at least in the House, if all the new money went toward property tax relief.

"There would definitely be some interest there," Gillespie said.

A lot of lawmakers like the idea of a consumption tax increase to help fund property tax relief, Gillespie said.

DePasquale said he, too would support a sales tax increase only if all the money went toward property tax relief.

"I believe that (Rendell's) proposal has practically no chance," he said.

-- Reach Carl Lindquist at 505-5432 or clindquist@york dispatch.com.