The Rhinocerization of America

I’m in a bit of a state right now. I’ve been dwelling all day on how much trouble this country is in. And then the terrorism in Texas may have sent me over the edge. To not say anything seems impossible. To ask, as I did the last time we faced a terror attack, if the shooter is a terrorist, a thug or simply crazy is to make a point most everyone who reads this will already understand. To offer thoughts and prayers seems ridiculous. I’m just profoundly scared about the future of this country, and indeed, of liberal democracy in the world. I believe the moral arc of the universe bends to justice. I believe that morality is deeply rooted in the nature of human beings and in our capacity to reason. But it has always taken struggle to realize our aspirations to the human good and justice. The forces … Continue reading

Property Tax Elimination in PA — on HB/SB 76

As we at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center point out here, some people believe that the constitutional amendment on the ballot in November would make it easier to enact some version of the property tax elimination proposal HB /SB 76. We’re not sure that this is true. But if it were, we would certainly oppose the constitutional amendment because HB / SB 76 is possibly the worst policy proposal we’ve ever encountered.  There is a superficial appeal to the proposal to replace the property taxes raised to fund Pennsylvania’s schools with state-wide income and sales taxes. We rely too heavily on local taxes, mostly property taxes, and far less heavily on state taxes to fund our schools. And the over-reliance on local property taxes is one of the main reasons we have the most inequitably funded schools of any state in the country. It is also why property taxes … Continue reading

This Is Not Normal

It’s hard to look at politics in America without being afraid for our future. Everywhere we look we see extremist movements that reject common standards of argument and evidence and are willing to say anything to advance their cause—and they will not compromise even at the cost of creating a public disaster. What we see so clearly in our federal government is happening in state politics as well. And it is time for us to recognize and name it. The influence of extremist politics in the state budget process this year was not normal. And good government in this state will be impossible if it becomes normal. This year Pennsylvania faced a serious budget deficit of close to $3.5 billion. And thanks to Governor Wolf and Republican leaders in the Senate, we had a chance to deal with it in a responsible bipartisan way. But right-wing extremist Republicans in the … Continue reading