Mr. Nutter Goes to Harrisburg

It's Our Money's Ben Waxman had a nice set of factors that might make the sales tax hike get accepted in Harrisburg called "Selling the Sales Tax," including my favorite weird rationale that started with Mrs. Verna: the higher rate will help business elsewhere.

Who thinks this will pass? Why do people think the silence has been deafening on this phase of the process? And hey, Ben, who the heck is CleanUpPhilly?

Where do we go from here? Down to the lake I fear.

For the record this is my screed on the sales tax issue right now.

The question unasked in all of this is: How in the face of declining receipts at a 7% rate, will more revenue get collected at a higher 8%? State-wide, receipts from the sales tax dropped $100 million below estimate, to about $600 million. In Philly itself the decline is 6.7%.

I am mystified at the chatter about the sales tax when it is such an inherently weak tax in a recession that is unfair to poorer people. Saying that other cities have higher sales taxes is a nifty factoid, but has nothing to do with lower to no (Delaware) sales taxes in the immediate vicinity. While people - poor people - will have to pay the sales tax on small items, like take-out food (they have limited access to grocery stores), any Philadelphian wanting to buy a big-ticket item - think the HDTV - will get it online or in Delaware. The only way this might go through is so that suburban merchants can get more business from cross-border shoppers. Yippee for Philly.

If it weren't for Cleanup Philly...

Half of my posts would be comment free. I think Sean has the right person, although for some reason I thought she lived in the Northeast. Anyway, her basic point is that there are a lot of uncollected property taxes and that should be the #1 priority to fill the budget gap.

But, yeah. She posts a lot of comments.

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I think there is a chance

I think there is a chance that the GOP will try to use Philadelphia as some kind of bargaining chip. Also, it's not totally clear who is going to fight for the sales tax increase in Harrisburg. Fumo is gone. Dwight Evans might carry the water for Nutter, but he's also a little busy dealing with the state deficit. So, I'm not totally sure who can be leveraged by the Republicans.

One thing that I have heard a lot of people talking about is what pound of flesh the state is going to extract in exchange for the sales tax increase. They already control the School District and the Parking Authority. So, what is left? Maybe the Airport? What else would the state want?

Another storyline: It'll be interesting to see which members of the Philadelphia delegation try to help Nutter and who tries to mess with him. For example, Mike O'Brian has already said he might vote against the sales tax. I don't know what his policy reasoning is, but O'Brian is also very close to IBEW Local 98...and we all know how Dougherty feels about Nutter. So there will be some interesting jockeying happening among the various political factions within the state delegation.

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Weird? Yes.

But Jake Corman and John Baer both think the sales tax bump -- for good or ill -- is likely to sail smoothly, and I suspect the chatter otherwise from O'Brien et al is only to fill space while others plot the next catharsis in the budget saga.

Speaking of weird: Haircut 100 reference acknowledged.

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