No Time For Giving Up

It appears that members of the General Assembly are moving towards a final plan for funding the budget they passed in June. We share the sense of relief that is gradually emanating from the Capitol—we, too, are tired of talking about the budget. But we also know that the urge to get something done can sometimes overcome the urge to get it done right. So now is the time for members to demand that this budget not just be finished but be finished right. That means two things. First, that the revenue plan include sufficient recurring tax revenue to address our long-term structural deficit. The pain of the last three months will be for naught if the state finds itself facing an even larger deficit on July 1, 2018. A large deficit in an election year offers too much temptation for the worst kind of budget chicanery and gimmickry, which … Continue reading

What’s the Rush? Save the Cohen Wage Tax Rebate!

One of the last accomplishments of long time progressive Councilmember David Cohen—a rebate on the wage tax for those with low incomes—may be repealed tomorrow. It shouldn’t be. There are good policy arguments both for and against the wage tax rebate. I’ll come to some of them in a moment. But, frankly, at the moment those arguments are secondary. The key reason not to repeal the legislation tomorrow is that the decision to put off AVI for a year means that Council is going carry out a broad examination of taxation in the city next year. The Cohen wage tax rebate is not scheduled to go into effect until 2016 anyway. So there is plenty of time to reconsider it as we think through the future of taxation in Philadelphia. Any city like Philadelphia has to balance considerations of progressivity and economic growth. While, progressive taxation has very little negative … Continue reading

Homeowners, Don’t Fight the AVI—It’s Good for You

 Originally published in the Daily News, May 29, 2012 A great fear seems to have come over the city as the heavy footsteps of a monster called AVI come ever closer to us. It’s time to recognize, however, that that monster is a friendly creature who will benefit most of us. Partly because tax matters are hard to understand and partly because Mayor Nutter wants to raise more revenue for schools from the real-estate tax, public discussion of AVI — Actual Value Initiative — has become confused. No one trusts any government, and some people in office or thinking of running for office can’t resist the temptation to be demagogues about any issue. So, the confusion has created the false belief that AVI is just a tax increase in disguise. We desperately need to get back to some basics: AVI is about tax fairness. And, under it, most Philadelphians will see … Continue reading