Liberal Ed Rendell proposes raising taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, electricity and small businesses to fund another massive expansion of state government in Pennsylvania.
Does Pennsylvania have an official state song? If not, here's the first tune that pops into my head when I think of the Keystone State:
(If you drive a car) I'll tax the street
(If you try to sit) I'll tax your seat
(If you get too cold) I'll tax the heat
(If you take a walk) I'll tax your feet
Taxman! 'Cause I'm the taxman
Yeah, I'm the taxman
And you're working for no one but me
— Lyrics from "Taxman" by George Harrison
It's a new year and the Pennsylvania Taxman is busier than ever.
Gov. Ed Rendell now wants to tax electricity to fund his new renewable energy plan.
A couple of weeks ago, he was talking about raising the tax on cigarettes and imposing a payroll tax on Pennsylvania businesses to fund his health care plan.
Rendell's proposal to raise the state's gasoline tax is still out there and so is his desire to raise the realty transfer tax and impose higher earned income taxes to fund his transportation plan.
Soon, the governor will jump on a plan to raise the state sales tax with the promise that it will eventually lead to property tax cuts. You remember the property tax cuts Rendell promised in 2002 and 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and 2006? Well, he'll promise some more down the road if you let him raise the sales tax.
I swear Rendell would tax the air we breathe if he could figure out a way to collect the money from us.
Every month, I like to take time to remind Pennsylvania residents how much they pay in taxes to the state.
Here is the end-of-the-month report on taxes and fees collected by the Pennsylvania Revenue Department for January:
The state collected $2.3 billion in General Fund revenue in January, which was $28.2 million, or 1.3 percent, more than anticipated. Fiscal year-to-date General Fund collections total $13.7 billion, which is $95 million, or 0.7 percent, above estimate.
Sales Tax receipts totaled $856 million for January, which was $11.9 million above estimate. Sales Tax collections year-to-date total $5.1 billion, which is $42.5 million below estimate, or 0.8 percent less than anticipated.
Personal Income Tax (PIT) revenue in January was $1.1 million, which was $7.8 million above estimate and brings year-to-date PIT collections to $5.3 billion, or $73.5 million above estimate.
January Corporation Tax revenue of $135 million was $24 million above estimate. Year-to-date Corporation Tax collections total $1.7 billion, which is $86.6 million, or 5.4 percent, above estimate.
Other General Fund revenue figures for the month included $70.5 million in Inheritance Tax, which was $7.9 million above estimate and brought the year- to-date total to $429.8 million, or $19.6 million below estimate.
Realty Transfer Tax revenue was $52.4 million for January, bringing the total to $352.8 million for the year, which is $21.2 million less than anticipated.
Other General Fund revenue, including the Cigarette, Malt Beverage and Liquor Tax, totaled $94.2 million for the month, which was $23.5 million below estimate. Year-to-date collections have totaled $802.9 million, which is $18.2 million above estimate.
In addition to the General Fund collections, the Motor License Fund received $204 million for the month, which was $16.8 million above estimate. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $1.4 billion, which is $0.9 million, or 0.1 percent, below estimate.
The Gaming Fund received $66.8 million in unrestricted revenues for January. Fiscal year-to-date collections for the fund total $175.7 million. Gaming Fund receipts include taxes, fees and interest. Of the total for the month, $16.3 million was collected in state taxes for property tax relief, bringing the year-to-date total to $24.8 million.
Other gaming-related revenues collected for January included $3 million for the Local Share Assessment, for a total of $4 million for the year; $2.4 million for the Economic Development and Tourism Fund, for a year-to-date total of $3.7 million; and $5.7 million for the Race Horse Development Fund, bringing the total for the year to $8.8 million.
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