Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To WAM or Not To WAM - My Dear Watson

To WAM or Not to WAM in Pa. Budget by KYW's Tony Romeo

Pennsylvania Lawmakers haggle over pet projects in stalled budget negotiations. So much for Monty Hall's Lets Make a Deal.

A spokesman for the Senate Republican leader insists there will be no WAMS in this tight budget year. But Tim Potts, co-founder of the good Pennsylvania government group “Democracy Rising,” says he believes there is probably more than $100 million tucked away for WAMS:

“The problem is that there’s never been an accurate accounting for WAMS. They’re never told us where they are, how much they are, what the process is used to get them.”

Keep in mind that the tax on arts, music, and theatre is meant to bring in $120 million. Guess they will be funding the WAMS if they are in the budget.

Here's what happens when government geniuses pick on an industry and depend on its tax revenue. Hotel Taxes Down In Lancaster

Fast Eddy Rendell's battlecry was that revenue projections were phony. In a tight state budget how does Rendell justify offering a job to the soon to be ex-mayor of Harrisburg? Tony Phyrillas previously reported that Rendell hired 110 employees, many high salaried where the pay is at least $100,000.00, on his own after he announced a hiring freeze. I guess the state budget crisis and revenue projections affect everyone except Rendell.

Let's finish up with John Baers' column in the Philadephia News that takes a semi-satirical look at the confusion over what is and what is not in the current proposed Pennsylvania State Budget.

WITH A $28 billion seemingly shaky budget deal now being explained to the rank-and-file lawmakers whose votes are needed to enact it, here's a peek at how that process might be moving along.

Picture closed meetings: many lawmakers, a few legislative leaders.

LEADER: OK, you've all seen or heard some details. Questions?

LAWMAKER #1: Yeah, explain why we should vote for $700 million in new taxes if there's a $450 million surplus in here and another $100 million in WAMs.

LEADER: We need, um, a cushion for next year. And it's probably best not to mention cushions or WAMs in your next taxpayer-financed constituent newsletter home.

LAWMAKER #2: Why are we canceling the scheduled cut in the Capital Stock and Franchise Tax for business given that the national, nonpartisan and venerable Tax Foundation just reported our ranking among states "best for business" has slipped from 22nd in 2006 to 27th now.

LEADER: Well 27th is like halfway to best, right? Next question.

LAWMAKER #3: What's the reasoning behind a new 25-cent tax on cigarettes and little cigars that look like cigarettes, but at the same time we remain the only state not taxing real cigars and chewing tobacco?

LEADER: Perhaps you are unaware of U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts released Sept. 1 saying our state, our people, our constituents will produce 19.2 million pounds of tobacco this year, up from 6.8 million in 2002, making us one of only three states, along with Kentucky and North Carolina, with a higher yield than last year. It's a grower's market, baby. Plus, remember our motto: "Gutless on Smokeless."

LAWMAKER #4: I don't see anything in here about taxing gays for access to restaurants, concerts, pro sports, public restrooms, churches and rural counties.

LEADER: No, Daryl, we took that out.

LAWMAKER #5: Speaking of concerts, why are we taxing concerts, performing arts, museums, zoos and such and not pro sports games?

LEADER: You really think the Big Guy, OK the formerly Big Guy, wants to anger owners of the Phillies and Pirates while angling to become Major League Baseball commissioner? Come on.

What I think of Ed Rendell: (I think state outrage over him is on par with the outrage against George Bush as the end of his term)

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