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.

Clean up Philly

I'm pretty sure used to be a prolific poster on phillyblog who went by the handle of ljlong in days of yore but was barred as the result of some sort of vaguely racial/gentrification tinged dust-up that I don't recall the details of immediately. She's an outspoken and active neighbor in the Grad Hospital/SWCC section of the city and obviously she emphatically supports the idea of shifting tax revenue focus on the collecting of uncollected property taxes. Or at least it would be eery if there was another poster as passionate and prolific, with the same perspective and same gramatical ticks from SWCC.

She does seem to keep the Inquirer/Daily News comments section populated all by herself, doesn't she?
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

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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Check out "It's Our Money"

At least you know you are being read

I'm told she's just as much of a passionate pressence at SOSNA meetings. I believe I once posted that I would love to see a cable access talk show on urban renewal/gentrification issues with LJ and Al Alston as co-hosts. I still think it would be a hoot.

Anyway back on topic. I thought you posed the questions well Ben, I'm also wondering how the city's sales tax pitch will be effected by the state's own massive deficit/budget negotiations. I kind of fear that Senate Republicans will try to hold the state budget hostage by strongarming Philly legisltors with the city budget. It was one reason I was warmer to Nutter's orginal emphasis on property taxes than most, though probably not quite as emphatically as LJ/CleanUp. And if they do string Philly along for leverage what happens here? How long does PICA wait before <*gulp*> "Plan B" kicks in?
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

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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Check out "It's Our Money"

O'Briens politics are weird there

since this version of the sales tax plan, as opposed to R district councilman O'Brien's first version, really has Bill Green's name written all over it, at least as much as it does Nutter's.
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

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.

I meant Oniel the district councilman

who proposed the first borrow against sales tax at exorbitant rates plan. Not to be confused with Obrien the NE Republicrat speaker of the house or Obrian the Fishtown good freind of the IBEW. Sorry for any confusion my NE Philly pol aphasia may have caused.

Really there is no reason for any state politician of any stripe to deny Philly city government's ability to ballance its budget as it sees fit - except that Philly is literally "up sh*t creek without a paddle" if they don't get it and there is always that impulse to ask for something in return from someone who you know really, really needs something. What that is, I don't know. My fear is that the state budget will be on the table at the same time, Philly Dem state legislators will be pushing it towards saving programs, Republican leadership from farther afield will be pushing it towards killing those programs and Philly city government walks into situation where it becomes a bargaining chip. Stranger things have happened.
-Sean
MrLuigi, my cat, actually only types half as badly as I do.

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