News & Brews April 16, 2024

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Dem-tied voter registration site looks official, but uses data for political ends 

Broad + Liberty’s Todd Shepherd investigates the website, which “sounds very much like the real Pennsylvania Department of State website:” and even “looks thematically similar to the blue keystone with a white ‘PA’ used in official state websites.” But read the fine print, and you’ll see that “site is a project of Commonwealth Communications, a 501(c)4 political nonprofit run by J.J. Abbott, Governor Wolf’s former press secretary turned political operative.” What’s more, the site gathers data of folks who may think they are simply registering to vote and uses that data for partisan political ends.

Biden heading to Pa. today to talk taxes

The Delaware Valley Journal reports that today, President Biden will make his first of three Pa. stops scheduled for this week. Today’s will be in Scranton, with Pittsburgh and Philly coming next. The president will supposedly talk tax cuts for the ‘middle class’ and hikes on the ‘rich’ so they pay their ‘fair share’. It seems he may be among the many Americans who would fail a basic tax literacy poll. In fact, the story notes that per the Tax Foundation, “For the individual income tax alone, the top 1 percent of earners pay about 45.8 percent of total income taxes, and the top 10 percent of earners pay nearly 76 percent of total income taxes.” Meanwhile, as the Wall Street Journal recently noted, “As of last summer, 63% of new audits targeted taxpayers with income of less than $200,000.”

About that $1B in property tax relief promised decades ago

PennLive reports that it’s “been 20 years since then Gov. Ed Rendell promised an annual $1 billion in property tax relief would be coming in a few years.” Depending how you slice it, maybe the day has come? Or, maybe not. This week, the Shapiro administration “certified that a record $900 million will be available from the state’s 34% slot machine tax to lower next year’s school property tax bills, or in Philadelphia’s case, the wage tax.” And an additional $175.6 million was certified “to help fund the expanded property tax and rent rebate program for seniors and individuals with disabilities.” But per Republican House Appropriations Chair Seth Grove, this amount is less than it should be. And he said that “added to the fact that the Shapiro Administration signed onto the Basic Education Funding Commission report, which called for $291 million in property tax increases, it becomes clear that Shapiro’s agenda is taxing Pennsylvania into financial ruin.”

Taxpayers fund SEPTA, SEPTA funds China

For years, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission handed over $450 million annually to prop up the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA). And in his budget address this year, Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed more than $280 million in taxpayer dollars for transit, most of which would go to SEPTA—which continually lobbies for more money. Well, as the Inquirer reports, it turns out that over the past seven years, SEPTA has sent more than $50 million in taxpayer dollars to a company owned by the Chinese government, part of a $185 million contract for new rail cars. Only, China failed to deliver according to terms, so SEPTA canceled the contract. Now, SEPTA “is assessing its options for recouping funds.” Who thinks China is going to give the $50 million back?

After Michigan takeover, gov’t unions ‘eyeing Pa.’

The Commonwealth Foundation’s Andrew Holman explains how a government union takeover in Michigan has not only forced taxpayers to fund unions’ political fundraising and required “government employers to provide unions with employees’ personal contact information within 30 days of hiring,” but also “stripped private-sector workers of their right to work in a unionized workforce without being forced to join the union.” Already in Pa., taxpayers are “responsible for collecting government union PAC deductions, and private-sector workers don’t have the safeguard of the right to work. But that evidently isn’t enough.” Union-backed state lawmakers want even more—even to the point of allowing union contracts to supersede state law.

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