Pennsylvania's tax-and-spend liberal governor promised to lower taxes for all when he ran in 2002. Four years later, everyone is still waiting for tax relief.
My school property tax bill arrived in the mail Friday. My taxes are going up again. No surprise there. When was the last time a school district didn't raise taxes?
What's perplexing is that Gov. Ed Rendell promised that my property taxes would go down. He made that pledge in 2002 when he wanted my vote.
But my taxes have gone up every year Rendell has been governor of Pennsylvania. In fact, I'm paying 22 percent more in school taxes since Rendell took office. How can that be? Would Ed Rendell lie just to get my vote?
And I'm talking only about school taxes. My county tax bill rose 36 percent in one year alone (The same year Democrats took control of the county commissioners' board). The taxes I pay to the borough I live in have also gone up.
The only tax cut I've seen in recent years is from the federal government, where I qualified for the Bush tax cuts that the liberals keep saying are only for the rich. If you take a look at my bank account or all the work my house needs or the 14-year-old car I drive, you'd realize I�m not rich by anyone's definition.
A day after Rendell signed the tax rebate, he announced a new Web site that promises to explain all you need to know about "property tax relief." The emphasis is on the word promises. The site, www.propertytaxrelief.com, doesn't offer much helpful information other than a suggestion that you can send away for an application to be put on a waiting list for possible tax rebates in 2007.
In other words, more promises from Ed Rendell that he'll cut our taxes if we re-elect him to another four years in November. This is the same Rendell who promised that Pennsylvania would be swimming in money if we backed his gambling proposal. Two years after Rendell's slots plan was approved by the legislature, we're no closer to the Golden Goose of casino revenue than we were when Rendell took office.
The most optimistic projection of when the state will receive some casino money is 2009 or 2010 at the earliest. And that's assuming that the casino applicants who don't get licenses don't sue the state. If that happens, we may not see casino revenues until Rendell is out of office (assuming Pennsylvania residents are dumb enough to re-elect him to a second term.)
Let's take a quick look at Rendell�s record on taxes since he became governor. He raised the earned income tax by $1 billion in 2002. He gave us the emergency services tax in 2004. He increased state spending by $2 billion dollars. So he's actually taken $3 billion out of the pockets of working Pennsylvanians during his first term. That's what you call tax relief?
Rendell promised tax cuts in 2003, in 2004, in 2005 and in 2006, but I still haven't seen any tax relief. How about you? How are you going to spend that Rendell tax cut?
Rendell is gloating that the state has a $700 million budget surplus, but has anyone stopped to consider where that $700 million came from? In 2003, Rendell took $1 billion from working Pennsylvanians in the form of higher taxes and now the state has a $700 million surplus. Is Rendell willing to give any of the money back to us? Nope. Not a chance. He wants to spend it. That's what Ed Rendell does. He's a classic tax-and-spend liberal.
Instead of using the $700 million to provide immediate tax relief for all Pennsylvanians, Rendell (and the dimwit Republican legislators who went along with the plan) decided to borrow $400 million from the lottery fund to pay for the tax rebate scheme.
If the casino money flows in around 2010 -- and that's a big if -- the state will have to repay the lottery fund and then give back what's left to seniors who earn less than $35,000 a year. Under Rendell's plan, 80 percent of Pennsylvania taxpayers will get nothing.
The average tax rebate under the bill Rendell signed last week is 17 percent. In other words, if I was a senior citizen and earned less than $35,000 a year, I could qualify for an average tax rebate of 17 percent if I live to see the year 2010.
But I've already paid 22 percent more in taxes since Rendell took office, so I'm already in the hole. And what if I'm 78 years old and don't live to see 82? I still have to pay my school property taxes over the next four years, but never get a penny back under Rendell's plan.
That's Ed Rendell's promise of tax relief in a nutshell. No wonder they call him Fast Eddie.
If you're still contemplating voting for Rendell, you're obviously a few bricks shy of a load. Maybe you'd like to help pay my school tax bill, too. I know Ed Rendell isn't going to help me.
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas