On Tax Day, The Super-Rich Thank Their Lucky Stars For GOP Govs

April 15, 2014

Today’s Tax Day – an occasion for the super-rich to thank their lucky stars for Republican governors who have systematically raised middle class taxes and gutted investments in education in order to shower them with tax breaks and special deals. From Florida to Michigan, Louisiana and Kanas, Republican governors have pursued failed, top-down tax policies that do nothing to create jobs or strengthen the middle class, but that reward the wealthiest and well-connected.

While they rejoice, the results have been devastating for working people. In New Jersey, because of RGA Chair Christie’s poor fiscal choices, the state’s credit rating has been downgraded four separate times. After Kansas Governor Sam Brownback massively cut the state’s income tax, which disproportionately benefited high-income earners, students’ test scores in reading and math declined for the first time in twelve years as utility rates, sales taxes, property taxes, and the cost of college skyrocketed. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder paid for $1.8 billion in corporate tax cuts by cutting school funding and raising taxes on seniors’ pensions. And while Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker extended tax breaks to out-of-state corporations, he has fallen woefully short of meeting the core promise of his 2010 campaign: that he’d create 250,000 new private sector jobs.

Unfortunately, those are just a few examples. To commemorate Tax Day, here’s the background on how Republican governors have put the wealthiest and well-connected ahead of the middle class and the long-term economic future of their states:

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: Eliminating Income Taxes While Expanding Sales Taxes Tilts Tax Burden “Against Middle- And Lower-Income Households.” “Proponents claim that eliminating income taxes and expanding the sales tax would make tax systems simpler, fairer, and more business-friendly, with no net revenue loss.  In reality, they would tilt state taxes against middle- and lower-income households and likely undercut the state’s ability to maintain public services.” [Elizabeth McNichol, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/22/13]

CBPP: State Tax Cuts Jeopardize Schools. “Deep state tax cuts can be very, very bad for K-12 schools.  That’s a key lesson of last week’s court ruling that found that Kansas is unconstitutionally underfunding its elementary and secondary schools even as it slams through one of the nation’s largest-ever state tax cuts.  And it’s a lesson that the surprising number of governors who are considering tax cuts as they unveil their budgets for next year should heed.” [Phil Oliff, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1/15/13]

Citizens For Tax Justice: “Beware The Tax Swap.” “The most extreme and potentially devastating tax reform proposals under consideration in a number of states are those that would reduce or eliminate one or more taxes and replace some or all of the lost revenue by expanding or increasing another tax.  We call such proposals ‘tax swaps.’ […] In the end, tax swap proposals hike taxes on the majority of taxpayers, especially low- and moderate-income families and give significant tax cuts to wealthy families and profitable corporations.” [Citizens for Tax Justice, 1/24/13]

KANSAS

Bloomberg: “Unprecedented” Kansas Tax Cuts Have Lawmakers Searching For “How To Pay” Without “Potentially Crippling Public Schools And Other Local Government Functions.” “Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has a prairie-wide smile, a friendly manner and an abiding hatred of his state’s income tax. He pushed an unprecedented cut for individuals and small businesses through the legislature last year and is now plotting, as he says, to ‘take it to zero.’ […] The race presents significant hurdles. Kansas lawmakers haven’t figured out how to pay for the tax cuts without potentially crippling public schools and other local government functions. Reducing the income tax has left a projected $2.5 billion revenue hole through fiscal 2018, according to the Kansas Legislative Research Department. On Jan. 11, a state court ruled that the legislature was illegally underfunding schools and ordered a payment of $440 million.” [Bloomberg, 1/25/13]

Investors Fear “Major Fiscal Risk” From Lost Revenue. “‘It’s a major fiscal risk,’ Chris Mier, managing director of analytical services at Loop Capital Markets in Chicago, said of Brownback’s income-tax push. ‘Are the alternative revenue sources going to produce the revenue they need?’ Other investors may share that view. Kansas issuers trailed gains in the $3.7 trillion tax-exempt market during the past year. The bonds’ 5.5 percent return in 2012 was the eighth-worst among all U.S. states… Moody’s Investors Service said Jan. 17 that the school- funding ruling represents a negative credit risk for the state and ‘underscores the challenge’ confronting Kansas to offset the revenue loss from the income-levy reductions.” [Bloomberg, 1/25/13]

CBPP: Kansas’s “Massive” 2012 Tax Cuts “Disproportionately” Benefited The Wealthy, Healped Lead To $700 Million Budget Shortfall, “Unlikely” To Produce Promised Economic Gains. Michael Leachman, writing for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, reported that, “Governor Sam Brownback, who last year pushed through a massive income tax cut that he claimed would provide a ‘shot of adrenaline’ to the state economy, is now calling for tax increases in the face of a $700 million budget shortfall… Governor Brownback’s income tax cut disproportionately helps the wealthy, while sales taxes fall hardest on lower-income people.  So, paying for an income tax cut with a sales tax hike boils down to requiring typical Kansans to pay part of the tax bills of the state’s wealthiest residents… Governor Brownback’s massive tax cut is particularly unlikely to produce the promised economic boom because its centerpiece — eliminating taxes on certain forms of business income — is very poorly targeted to businesses that will create new jobs.” [Michael Leachman, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 12/11/12]

Brownback’s 2012 Tax Cuts “Divided GOP Lawmakers,” Was Projected To Cost Kansas $800 Million In Lost Revenue. “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law Tuesday a tax-cut measure that had divided GOP lawmakers in one of the country’s most fiscally conservative states, pitting tea-party advocates who argued it would spur economic growth against some fellow Republicans who worried the cuts go too far. The tax plan, which was the subject of weeks of intense debate and political maneuvering in the legislature, will reduce the top individual state income-tax rate to 4.9% from 6.45% in 2013. It also will eliminate income taxes on non-wage income for about 191,000 small businesses. The plan likely would require additional cuts in spending on education and social services to cover a reduction in annual tax revenue projected by the Kansas Legislative Research Department to exceed $800 million by 2014, or 12.8% of projected state revenues.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/22/12]

Brownback’s Fellow Republicans Criticized Tax Cuts They Said Would Result In Cuts To Essential Services, Increased Property Taxes. “A group of nearly 50 former legislators, all Republicans, criticized a proposed tax cut endorsed by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican. Traditional Republicans for Common Sense said the tax bill, if enacted, would put the state in a budget hole that would result in cuts to essential services, such as schools, roads, and nursing home care. The group said it would also lead to increases in local property taxes.” [Lawrence Journal-World, 5/1/12]

2013: Sam Brownback Called For Cutting Income Taxes While Extending Heightened Sales Tax Rate.“Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback swung for the fences Tuesday night, calling for even deeper income tax cuts while holding onto a penny sales tax that was intended to bridge the state through the recession. The Republican chief executive told lawmakers he wants to slash income taxes for the state’s lowest wage earners by more than a third while keeping the current state sales tax rate at the current level of 6.3 cents on the dollar.” [Kansas City Star, 1/15/13]

Wichita Eagle Editorial: Brownback “Flip-Flopped” On Sales Tax Opposition. “Given how strenuously conservative lawmakers and anti-tax groups opposed the statewide sales-tax increase in 2010, it is hard to believe that the Legislature would even consider going back on its word and not allowing the tax to expire on July 1. Yet Gov. Sam Brownback and the Kansas Chamber of Commerce already have flip-flopped; lawmakers may do so, too.” [Phillip Brownlee, Wichita Eagle Editorial,12/31/12]

Hays Daily News Editorial: Sales Tax Extension Part Of An Effort To “Redistribute Even More From The Poor And Middle Class” To Wealthy. “In 2011, there was no support for repealing the three-year [sales] tax early… new Gov. Sam Brownback didn’t want the revenue to disappear. Brownback still doesn’t. His budget proposal for FY 2014 doesn’t allow the increased sales tax to sunset as designed… Many lawmakers, including Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer, R-Grinnell, promised their constituents the increase would be temporary. Were there an economic recession to justify reneging on that promise, we would understand. The only thing that’s changed, however, is the governor’s insistence that income taxes disappear along with popular tax deductions such as mortgage interest. It is a self-inflicted wound; part and parcel of the ‘experiment’ to redistribute even more from the poor and middle class to the already wealthy state residents.” [Patrick Lowry, Hays Daily News Editorial, 1/23/13]

Brownback Proposed Ending Tax Exemptions For Property Taxes And Interest Paid On Home Mortgages. “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback wants to eliminate two popular state income tax deductions for homeowners, and even some of his conservative Republican allies in the Legislature said Wednesday they were surprised to learn he’s targeting both. Legislators in both parties said they weren’t previously aware that Brownback seeks to end an income tax deduction claimed by Kansans for the property taxes they pay on their homes. He also proposes ending the deduction for the interest paid on home mortgages. Each tax break is claimed by more than 300,000 taxpayers.” [Associated Press, 1/23/13]

LOUISIANA

Jindal Proposing Elimination Of Louisiana Income And Corporate Taxes, Paid For With Increased Sales Taxes. “Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to eliminate Louisiana’s income and corporate taxes and pay for those cuts with increased sales taxes, the governor’s office confirmed Thursday. The governor’s office has not yet provided the details of the plan.” [Times-Picayune, 1/10/13]

Jindal Plan Would Haved Raised Sales Tax 47% – Combined Average State And Local Sales Rates Would Be Highest In The Country. “Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate the state’s income and corporate taxes would raise the state sales tax to 5.88 percent, eliminate about 200 exemptions and include a rebate for middle- and low-income residents as well as for some retirees… The planned increase in the sales tax would raise the current rate by about 47 percent and would come on top of local sales taxes. Residents in New Orleans, for example, would pay a combined rate of about 11 percent under the plan. The proposal also calls for increasing the state’s cigarette tax from 36 cents to $1.41 per pack. Louisiana already has one of the highest combined average state and local sales tax rate in the country and the increase would put the state at the top of that list, according to information from The Tax Foundation.” [Times-Picayune, 3/14/13]

Plan Would Have Expanded Sales Tax To New Services, Eliminate 200 Tax Exemptions. “Sales taxes would be expanded to some services under the plan, said Tim Barfield, Jindal’s point man on the tax proposal… The proposal would eliminate about 200 tax exemptions, including about 130 that will be wiped out due to the elimination of the income and corporate taxes. The administration plans to keep some existing exemptions for economic development, such as the Enterprise Zone program, tax credits for movie production, and historical preservation tax credits. However, some of those programs would be adjusted to be less generous.” [Times-Picayune, 3/14/13]

Lawmakers Were “Hesitant” On Jindal Proposal, Concerned It Would “Fall Disproportionately Harder On The Poor.” “Lawmakers responded with caution Friday to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s proposal to eliminate Louisiana’s income tax in exchange for higher sales taxes and other tax code changes, saying they needed more specifics about the idea… ‘I’m not totally sold. I want to see numbers. If the burden falls too much on the low- to middle-income families, I could not support that,’ said [Rep. Mike] Danahay, D-Sulphur, a conservative who often votes with Jindal. That concern was repeated by other lawmakers who worried a sales tax hike – in a state with one of the highest combined local and state sale tax rates in the nation – would fall disproportionately harder on the poor, because sales taxes take a larger slice of their earnings.” [Associated Press, 1/18/13]

April 2013: Jindal Tax Plan “Stalled As Legislative Session Nears”. “Gov. Bobby Jindal’s main legislative priority, a massive tax rewrite proposal, is in trouble and finding little public support as lawmakers open their annual regular session Monday. But Jindal’s had trouble selling the idea to lawmakers, and recent polls have shown the proposal isn’t popular with state residents either. ‘Overall, I do not see a groundswell of support,’ said Rep. Eddie Lambert, R-Gonzales. ‘I don’t think it can get passed. It would have to be a drastic turnabout.’” [Associated Press, 4/6/13]

Reuters: “Jindal’s Popularity Slumps” After Unveiling Tax Plan. “Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, one of the nation’s most prominent Republicans and a possible 2016 presidential candidate, has fallen out of favor with local voters, and his bold plan to scrap the state income tax is running into trouble… his Louisiana approval rating was down to 38 percent in a recent poll, worse than Democratic President Barack Obama in one of the most conservative states. The poll suggested voters think he is spending more time traveling outside the state and burnishing his credentials for a possible White House run than tending to local matters.” [Reuters, 4/7/13]

Hammond Star Editorial: Jindal Plan Another Attempt To “Pander To Louisianans.” “Gov. Bobby Jindal continues to come up with new ideas to pander to Louisianans, maybe in an attempt to shift attention away from the deep cuts taking across the state. This week, his topic is income taxes. Jindal proposed Thursday eliminating the state income tax and replacing the lost revenue through raising the sales tax and eliminating tax ‘loopholes.’ The governor seems to think this would be a “revenue neutral” move. This seems highly unlikely.” [Anthony James, Hammond Star Editorial, 1/15/13]

Jindal Plan Could Result In Tax Increase For “More Than 100,000 Retired State Employees And Teachers.” “Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to eliminate personal income taxes could result in a tax increase for more than 100,000 retired state employees and teachers if the revenue hole is — as suggested — partially offset with a sales tax increase, according to the leaders of two retiree groups. Others who retired from public service also would be affected, the officials say, because individuals who draw public pensions do not pay personal income tax on those benefits.” [Advocate, 1/25/13]

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy: Jindal Plan “Amounts To A Tax Increase On Bottom 80 Percent Of Louisianans,” Average $25,423 Tax Cut For Top 1 Percent. “The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) used its Microsimulation Tax Model to show the impact of eliminating the personal and corporate income taxes and increasing the sales tax rate to achieve overall ‘revenue neutrality’—a goal the Governor previously said would be part of his tax reform agenda… The bottom 80 percent of Louisianans in the income distribution would see a tax increase from repealing the personal and corporate income taxes and replacing them with a higher sales tax… Louisianans in the top 1 percent would see an average tax cut of $25,423, or 2.3 percent of their income under the plan described above” [Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy Brief, January 2013]

Tax Policy Center: Jindal Plan Would “Dramatically Shift” More Of Louisiana’s Tax Burden On Lower-Income Households. “[B]ase broadening can also push more of the burden to low-income households. Louisiana currently excludes groceries and utilities from taxation; taxing them would be especially difficult for families with limited resources. In fact, even without base broadening, the proposal would dramatically shift more of the burden of Louisiana’s taxes onto lower-income individuals. Since low-income households devote a higher share of their income to consumption, they end up paying higher effective tax rates than higher-income households which tend to spend less and save more. This concern is particularly stark in Louisiana, which was recently ranked as the sixth most unequal state in the country by one measure of inequality.” [Tax Policy Center, 1/14/13]

Tax Policy Center: Maintaining Current Revenues With Jindal’s Plan Would Require That Sales Tax Revenues “More Than Double.” “The higher tax burden for low-income households is no small concern. Last year Louisiana collected $2.9 billion through the individual and corporate income taxes and another $2.6 billion through the general sales tax. Maintaining current revenues with Jindal’s plan would require that sales tax revenues more than double, which means that, absent a significant broadening of the tax base, the tax rate would also have to rise substantially.  For households that don’t pay income taxes and save little or no income, this amounts to close to a 4 percentage point drop in after-tax income—about the same magnitude of tax pain for these households as going off the fiscal cliff.” [Tax Policy Center, 1/14/13]

MICHIGAN

Michigan: Snyder Signed Budget Cutting Business Taxes by $1.8 Billion While Taxing Pensions, Cutting Education Funding. “Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed into law the $47.4 billion budget that lawmakers sent him last month, putting in place a plan that he said will require sacrifice but mark ‘a major milestone in the reinvention of Michigan’ […]“Critics said the budget makes overly painful cuts to public schools, universities, local governments and key services. School districts saw funding cut by 2.2 percent, which has led to widespread teacher layoffs. Universities saw their state funding cut 15 percent, and local governments will see about $100 million less.” “The budget eliminated a deficit of more than $1 billion while funding a business tax cut of close to $1.8 billion. It taxed public pensions and reduced exemptions for private pensions, eliminating a slew of business and personal tax credits and making sharp cuts to funding for cities and higher education.” [Associated Press, 6/22/11; Detroit News, 6/21/11]

WISCONSIN

Wisconsin: Wealthiest 20% Of Wisconsin Households Would Take Home Over Half Of Scott Walker’s Proposed Income Tax Cut. “The top 20% of Wisconsin households – those making more than $90,000 a year – would take home more than half of all of Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed income tax cut, an analysis has found. The top 5% of tax filers – those with incomes above $162,000 – would pull in 20% of Walker’s more than $300 million tax cut… ‘In the long run, a shift from income to sales and excise taxation will definitely make the state’s tax system less progressive; that is, it will shift a larger portion of the costs of government services to those with lower incomes,’ [University of Wisconsin-Madison economist Andrew] Reschovsky wrote in an email.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2/24/13]

2011 Associated Press Headline: “Wis. Gov. Signs Budget Cutting Education $1.85B.” “Gov. Scott Walker signed his first budget Sunday, a plan that plugs the state’s $3 billion shortfall but also slashes funding for public schools and the University of Wisconsin System… Democrats assailed the budget as an attack on middle class values since it cuts funding for public schools by $800 million, reduces funding to the UW system by $250 million and cuts tax credits for poor people.” [Associated Press, 6/26/11]

OHIO

Ohio: Kasich Signed Budget That Eliminated the Estate Tax While Cutting Funds to Local Townships and Governments. “Cities, townships and other local governments will receive $1 billion less in state aid over the next two years through a combination of cuts to state funding and changes to the tax money they get, but the budget also includes a $45 million grant program in the budget for local governments that share services. The budget deposits approximately $250 million in its rainy day fund… The budget eliminates the state estate tax starting in 2013, provides for the sale of six prisons expected to generate around $200 million, permits the governor to pursue a long-term lease of the Ohio Turnpike by a private operator as long as lawmakers approve the terms and raises the threshold at which government must pay union-scale wages on public projects from the current $78,000 to $125,000 in 2012, $200,000 in 2013, and $250,000 in 2014.” [Sunshine Review, Ohio FY2012-2013 Budget, accessed 6/28/13]

Kasich Signed Budget That Included Income Tax Cut While Increasing State Sales Tax. “Ohioans will receive a 10-percent income tax cut [Kasich wanted 20%] phased in over three years but will see the sales tax rate rise from 5.5 to 5.75 percent. The budget includes a 50-percent tax break for small-business owners with up to $250,000 of yearly net income claimed on personal tax filings…Political volatile parts of the budget, like starving Planned Parenthood of funding, barring abortion providers from entering into emergency transfer agreements with public hospitals and forcing women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound, were untouched by Kasich’s veto pen.” [Examiner, 7/1/13]

FLORIDA

FL Gov. Rick Scott Considered More Tax Cuts with Budget Surplus Beyond Already Expanded Corporate Tax Cuts. Bloomberg Businessweek reported of Scott, “The 60-year-old Republican toured the state this month to highlight a proposed $500 million decrease in taxes and a projected $845.7 million surplus… Since taking office, Scott has expanded corporate income-tax breaks and reduced property taxes and sales taxes for manufacturing equipment.” [Bloomberg Businessweek, 9/23/13]

Editorial: Scott Should Invest Surplus in Education Which Has Still Not Recovered, Instead of More Tax Cuts for Big Business. The Gainesville Sun opined, “In the long term, researchers recommend that the state move away from low-wage industries such as retail and tourism toward higher-paying fields. If Scott wants to attract those kinds of businesses, he’ll need to provide them with an educated workforce. A good start would be investing part of the state’s expected budget surplus in both K-12 and higher education, which still haven’t recovered from years of previous cuts… Scott should show that he’s a leader who understands that prosperity is about more than tax cuts for big businesses.” [Editorial, Gainesville Sun, 9/4/13]

Florida Still Has Not Restored Funding from Before the Recession. The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported findings from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that “Florida still hasn’t recovered from the spending cuts brought on by the Great Recession.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/20/13]

PENNSYLVANIA

 

2011: Corbett’s Budget Contained $300 Million in Tax Cuts and Credits for Businesses. “Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign a $27.15 billion budget today that includes no tax increases or new taxes. The new fiscal year begins Friday. The 2011-12 budget cuts spending by 4.1 percent. It dramatically reduces aid for schools, colleges, economic development and welfare programs. It contains about $300 million in tax cuts and credits for business interests.” [Pennlive.com, 6/29/11]

 

Daily News Editorial: Corbett Cut Taxes for Business but No One Else – Tax Burden Increased for Most Under Corbett. “Corbett has not lowered taxes, except for business – and he’s been extraordinarily generous in those cuts.  As for the rest of us, we are paying the same rate on the income, sales and other state taxes as during the pre- Corbett era. In fact, if you add together state and local taxes, the tax burden has increased for most Pennsylvanians because of Corbett’s policies, especially when it comes to education. The governor spent his first two years in office whacking at state aid to basic and higher education.  The cuts in basic education, in particular, hit local school districts hard. In Philadelphia, we are still trying to climb out of the $300 million hole created by those reductions in state aid.  Local property taxes have been raised three times to help the school district. Mayor Nutter is trying to get a $2-a- pack cigarette tax passed for the schools.  At least part of the one point added to the local sales tax when the recession hit, which was due to expire next year, will stay on – permanently– to help the schools. The city may be the most dramatic example, but hundreds of districts across the state had to cut programs and raise taxes as well to make up for the decline in state aid.  In the suburbs, most districts raised taxes once, some twice, to raise the money.  They also cut programs. Tom Corbett hasn’t lowered taxes. What he did was redistribute the burden of paying for the public education from the state to local governments.  He did the same with social programs.” [Philadelphia Daily News, Editorial, 11/12/13]

 

Corbett’s First Two Budgets Cut More Than $1 Billion from Public Schools and Universities. According to a statement in April 2013 by Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Sharon Ward, the “last two state budgets cut more than a billion dollars for public schools and universities. Infrastructure investments have been delayed, and county human services funding has been slashed. Classrooms are more crowded…and local taxes are higher. There is more harm to come. Hidden deep within Gov. Tom Corbett’s…budget plan [proposed in 2013] are major income tax cuts for corporations beginning in 2015 that, when fully phased in, will cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Profitable corporations will pay less, hardworking families will pay more, and our schools and communities will deteriorate.” [Patriot News, 04/16/13]

 

·        As a Result of the First Two Budgets Signed by Corbett “local taxes are higher.” According to a statement in April 2013 by Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center Director Sharon Ward, the “last two state budgets cut more than a billion dollars for public schools and universities. Infrastructure investments have been delayed, and county human services funding has been slashed. Classrooms are more crowded…and local taxes are higher. There is more harm to come.  Hidden deep within Gov. Tom Corbett’s…budget plan [proposed in 2013] are major income tax cuts for corporations beginning in 2015 that, when fully phased in, will cost hundreds of millions of dollars each year.  Profitable corporations will pay less, hardworking families will pay more, and our schools and communities will deteriorate.” [Patriot News, 4/16/13]

 

Corbett Proposed and Signed Bill to Raise Pennsylvania’s Gas Tax by Almost 90 percent. “Pennsylvania motorists will feel the cost of the state’s new transportation-funding plan at the gas pump and at the driver’s license center.” “An average driver can expect to pay $22 more a year in 2014 and $132 more by 2018, according to calculations made by Gov. Corbett’s Transportation Funding Advisory Commission in 2011.  The commission’s recommendations formed the basis for the funding plan approved by the House and Senate” in 2013. “That would amount to 42 cents a week increase next year and $2.54 a week by 2018.” “The new transportation measure will provide about $2.3 billion more a year by 2018 for better roads, safer bridges and viable public transit.” “The measure will create 50,000 new jobs and preserve 12,000 existing jobs, the Corbett administration said.”  [Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/22/13]

 

Gas Tax Would Go from 31 Cents a Gallon to 59 Cents in 2018 – Would be Highest in the Country. “Within five years, if wholesalers pass on the full increase to consumers, that could increase the gas tax by about 28 cents a gallon. That would boost the state gas tax from the current 31.2 cents a gallon to 59.2 cents a gallon by 2018. No other state currently has a gas tax that high (California is currently 53.2 cents per gallon, Hawaii is 50.3, New York 49.9, and Connecticut 49.3.), though it’s likely some other states will hike their gas taxes in the coming years.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/22/13]

 

Bill Also Included Increasing Several Transportation Fees. The new Pennsylvania measure will also raise millions of dollars with higher fees on licenses, permits, and traffic tickets: Registration fees for passenger vehicles, light trucks, and motorcycles will be increased by the amount of inflation, beginning in 2015. Driver’s license fees except photo ID, probationary, occupational and commercial driver’s licenses will remain at the current levels, until all fees are indexed to inflation beginning in 2015. The fine for ‘failure to obey traffic control devices,’ a common citation for drivers stopped for running a stop sign or other infraction, will increase from…$25 to $150.  However, surcharges now added to the existing $25 cannot be added to the new amount. Motorists will be given the option of paying $500 in lieu of a three-month suspension for allowing their insurance to lapse.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/22/13]

 

Corbett Administration Raised Business License Fees in Harrisburg. A divided Harrisburg City Council, in 2011, “filed for federal bankruptcy protection in an effort to get creditors, including Dauphin County…to absorb a portion of the approximately $300 million in debt tied to its trash incinerator. But the Republican-controlled state Legislature and Republican governor enacted a takeover…in a bid to force Harrisburg alone to pay down the debt.” “Laying off several city employees and increasing parking fines and business license fees in Pennsylvania’s financially troubled capital are part of the state’s emergency takeover plans, Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration said.” “With its…unprecedented powers to manage Harrisburg’s finances, the Corbett administration revived the fee and fine increases.” [Associated Press Online, 11/3/11]