LETTER: Tax 'reform' in eye of beholder
I recently read a newspaper story about Gov. Tom Wolf's proposed budget. The writer described it as "a bold blueprint for raising and spending billions of new state dollars to slash local school property taxes, boost state spending for education programs and make Pennsylvania's tax system fairer."
The terms "bold," "slash" and "fairer" jumped out at me, as they aren't adjectives I would have used to describe the governor's proposed plans.
For example, I support Senate Bill 76 to totally eliminate school property taxes. To reach this much-needed and long-overdue goal, you need approximately $12 billion in replacement revenues.
Gov. Wolf has proposed approximately $3.5 billion in property tax reductions, which he says would provide dollar-for-dollar reductions "paid by the average homeowner by 50 percent and reducing the total tax burden on average, middle-class families."
I don't see how $3.5 billion out of an average $12 billion tax bill equals 50 percent. The math just doesn't work. And, I fail to see how this is "slashing" property taxes when there's another alternative that would completely eliminate school property taxes.
This reminds me of President Obama's plans to change our nation's health care system. Often called "Obamacare," many immediately called it "reform." Again, I wouldn't.
To me, "reform" begins with respect for our federal and state constitutions — our rule of law. I think that following the U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions would end many of the problems our nation and our state face.
Those who espouse the theory of a "living constitution" disagree. They claim the Constitution is a living document, designed to evolve with changing times.
"Reform" isn't a phrase that should be used lightly. Changes should be grounded in the Constitution, they should be well-thought out, and they should be focused on ensuring they're done correctly. Otherwise, "reform" is simply in the eye of the beholder.
STATE SEN. MIKE FOLMER