- Pennsylvania Among 'Terrible 10' Most Regressive Tax States
- February 4 Non-Partisan Training: HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013: HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Republican Governors Opt-In to Medicaid Expansion
- The Reports of Unions' Death Are Greatly Exaggerated
- Ask Allyson Schwartz to run for Governor
- Mind the gap: Opting Out of Medicaid Expansion Leaves Low-income Families Behind
- Jan. 14 Workshop:HOW TO RUN FOR ELECTION BOARD IN 2013; HOW TO RUN FOR COMMITTEEPERSON IN 2014
- Seth Williams on Guns, Jasmine Rivera on School Closures @PFC Meetup Wednesday
- PA Revenue Strong Midway Through Year; Tax Cut Could Have Big Impact
- What to Make of the Fiscal Cliff Deal?
Unraveling Library Debate Reveals BPT Elimination as Real Culprit, Part Deux
Way back in 2005, a funny looking little man named Ray wrote a post titled "Unraveling Library Debate Reveals BPT Elimination as Real Culprit":
The real cause of library service reductions is the elimination of the business privilege tax. City Council, the PA Economy League, Philadelphia Forward, Young Involved Philadelphia and other proponents of conservative trickle-down economic theory have beaten the drum for tax reform for so long that the Mayor included a 3.8% reduction in business privilege taxes in this year's budget. That reduction is worth $70 million in FY 06. The Mayor’s budget is revenue neutral so that reduction will be balanced by an increase in parking taxes from 15 to 20 %.
If even a small portion of the revenue generated by a parking tax increase were given to the Free Library rather than business privilege tax reduction, full-time week-day service could be maintained and all branches could be opened on Saturdays too (the Library says this would cost about $5 million, or about 7% of the amount of BPT tax reductions proposed). Instead, cuts are being made to basic services with the vague promise that business tax breaks will eventually generate economic growth.
The reality is that the jobs and economic growth that tax reform proponents have promised haven’t emerged so far and are unlikely to start any time soon. As Professor Robert Lynch pointed out in his paper, "Rethinking Growth Strategies," local taxes are normally at the bottom of a list of criteria that businesses use when making decisions about where to locate their company. At the top of that list is location, quality of city infrastructure and service, access to roads and transportation and the quality and skills of the local workforce.
Cuts to corporate taxes causing the library to shut its doors? That could never happen! I did see something in the paper today, however, that vaguely reminded me of the post above:
The looming round of budget cuts appears to have made managers across city government jittery, particularly at the Free Library of Philadelphia, which in a cost-cutting move eliminated Saturday hours at 27 of its 53 branches over the weekend.
The libraries were reopened, for now. But who needs libraries anyway? Kids on the street can do other things to distract themselves, like go to the gym:
Recreation Department officials recently met for a presentation assessing which recreation centers could be closed or get by with reduced operating hours. For now, cost-cutting measures seemed likely to be leaving vacant positions unfilled, cutting back on part-time jobs and reducing staff at five city ice rinks.
"My theory is, if we reduce anything, we are going to be cutting services to kids at this point. We can't cut anything else," said Michael McCrea, president of the Philadelphia Recreation Advisory Council, which represents nearly 190 volunteer groups.
To McCrea and others, the discussions are uncomfortably similar to those of 2004, when proposed belt-tightening moves included closing or leasing more than 30 recreation centers, and shuttering 20 city pools and several fire stations.
What is blowing a hole in our budget? Oh, right, the business tax cuts. So, let's get this straight: in a city wracked by violence and under-education, cutting business taxes results in laying off rec center employees and shuttering libraries on the weekends?
Bottom line: Philadelphians would rather stop business tax cuts rather than cut services like these. I know that the editorial boards of the papers, especially the Inquirer, have long pushed for these cuts. But, the jig is up, the game is over, the credits have rolled. Philadelphians who can least afford it are about to be dealt a severe blow, directly related to slashing business taxes. So, I hope reporters from the Daily News and Inquirer start to ask Council and the Mayor some tough questions. For example, why, in the face of a huge majority of their citizens against them, are they taking us down this path?
City Council needs to immediately halt business tax cuts and fix this.