From May, 2004Edit
We should oppose the Pgh commuter income tax. The tax is currently $10 per year for non-Pgh residents only. They will probably raise it to $52 /year for both Pgh residents and suburbanites.
Pgh has two oversight committees now. The Act 57 committee, which works with Pgh city council and oversees their expenditures has been in effect for a while. The new review board has 5 white males on it. It reports to the Pa. State Legislature.
Allegheny County suburbanites already pay taxes to support Pittsburgh's museums, zoos, etc. The Regional Asset District has raised the sales tax from 6% to 7% (a 14% increase, not a 1% increase). This subsidizes our regional assets. Dimitri says that if our tax money is needed for these regional assets, shouldn't they be called 'regional liabilities?"
Getting more money out of suburbanites to prop up the black hole of Pittsburgh finances is Murphy-Nomics. Murphy won't cut sevices. He wants retain all city jobs. Pgh city council has a $60 million dollar defecit this year.
Pgh has many tax-exempt entities. Universities, hospitals etc comprise 40% of Pgh. They pay no taxes but they employ many people who do pay taxes.
TIFs (tax increment financing) - this has removed property from the Pgh tax rolls. Old Navy, Lazarus, Lords & Taylor all had TIFs, yet they are closing or losing money.
One long range solution may be City-County consolidation. Louisville, KY, did this. Merge Pgh into Allegheny County, and keep all the suburbs intact. Metro-Pgh would be the 7th largest US city. Do this by year 2010. There would be no duplicated city/county services with this plan. Create a new city/county council.
Northeastern big cities don't do well anymore. Pgh, Buffalo, Cleveland, etc. Either let them rot on the vine, or absorb them into the better-run counties. Also the argument that the Pgh region needs to speak as one voice, especially to lure business here. Often the suburbs compete vs. the city of Pgh. But voters don't like metropolitanism.
Pittsburgh needs a business friendly environment, which it does not have. It needs a better tax structure to encourage investment and relocation here. But Pgh has has one-party rule for over 60 years.
Tom Green's parking lease costs him $3,000 per year!!!!!! The Pgh parking tax is highest in the nation. It has recently gone from 30% to 50%. So $1,500 of Tom Green's $3,000/yr for parking goes to the city. So he is a suburbanite who already supports the city indirectly.
- . Where is my property tax cut?
- . Slot machine bill
- . Borrow $2 billion and put it into the economy.
- . Tax increase
Allegheny County. Reassessment and real extate taxes are problems.
Rendell increased the income tax and he also increased the cellphone tax. Property taxes are still too high. Rendell does the worst in SW Pa. of any Pa. region. Rendell's top priority was property tax reform, yet there is no 'Rendell Magic' on this issue yet. But he found a way to raise the income tax.
Ridge got more accomplished in his first year in office, but Ridge had a GOP legislature and Rendell is held up mostly by the Pa. Senate. Rendell raised $40million in 2002 campaign and primary. The Pa. Primary may be moved up a few months in 2008, making Pa. more of a factor in the primaries. With Rendell in there, the Democrats should sweep the three row offices. The Pa. legislature will be mostly unchanged.
Specter vs. Toomey. An intermural GOP primary fight with 600,000 undecided GOP voters as the swing vote. Specter's support is a mile wide and an inch thick. Specter's biggest problem is Specter, according to Dimitri. Specter has a visceral effect on the right, just like Santorum has a visceral effect on the left, so they help each other out.
Specter voted against Judge Bork, was deciding vote. So Specter Borked Bork. Also the Clinton vote against successful impeachment (scottish law). But Specter delivers milllions of dollars to Pa., But conservative GOP swing voters don't necessarily consider that a plus. Specter has a hugh war chest. Specter does better in the general election than in the GOP primary. Someone always gets 35% against him in the primary.
Robert Byrd is the king of W. Va. pork. He put WVA on welfare. But this has only helped the special interests. Wal Mart is the #1 private employer in WVA.
US has $500 Billion defecit.
Row offices in Pa. Atty gen. R's have Corbett vs. Castor
Ds have Morganelli, Barrish and Eisenhower.
Row office races are totally below the radar, as always. GOP has won Atty General for the last 24 years. Dems may win Atty Gen because of Rendell's fundraising and political clout.
Auditor general- lost in shuffle. Atty Gen and Treas get more attention. GOP has John Mohr (Mahr?) vs. Joe Peters. Dems have Jack Wagner only. Auditor general is a low profile office with much power. They can audit anything that the state of Pa. does.
Treasurer- Bob Casey .
Prediction consensus is that the Dems will sweep the row offices. Allegheny county , Pgh and Philly and Gov office are now under Democrat control.