Jun 242009

Brian O’Neill offers an alternative to a PA income tax increase:

Tax hikes? How about paring the Legislature?

“Senate Republicans will prevail in blocking this tax increase (which would run about $5 a week for a person earning $50,000 a year). But before they impose the only alternative, massive cuts in education and elsewhere, legislators need to share more of the pain they’re about to dish out.

“The Republican-dominated state Senate passed a bill last month that would cut legislative appropriations by more than 10 percent from current levels (from $332.2 million to $293 million), but that isn’t nearly enough. With 253 legislators, that still works out to $1.16 millionper legislator.That’s an unfathomable expense just to keep the chambers running.”

It cracks me up that Mr. O’Neill seems to think Republicans are primarily to blame, as if Democrats never waste money. That’s a topic for another post, though. 😉

I’m not sure shrinking the country’s second largest and second most expensive state legislature would be enough to balance the budget, but it’d be a good start. How do we make it happen, though?

“The Pennsylvania Constitution allows no voters’ initiative to get a referendum on the ballot, and reducing the Legislature’s size requires a constitutional change. But all downsizing proposals have sputtered in Harrisburg largely because the lawmakers have no reason to believe they’ll be voted out if they don’t reform now.

“This ‘temporary’ tax increase, which Gov. Rendell says would last three years, provides the opening for the tedious process of changing the constitution. Call your state senator and representative and offer this simple advice: ‘Tax me? Cut you.'”

The electorate’s revolt against the 2005 pay raise ousted a lot of incumbants. Let’s hope similar gumption can not only unseat legislators but remove their seats as well!