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Patrick Gleason

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett Proposes Another Tax Increase


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, February 6th, 2013, 11:09 AM PERMALINK


Yesterday Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett proposed lifting the cap on the state’s oil company franchise tax, the tax applied to gasoline sold at the wholesale level, boasting that it will siphon an additional $5 billion from the private economy over the next five years.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: this proposal is a tax increase. Corbett’s proposal would more than double the state tax on gasoline sold at the wholesale level. Corbett’s proposal also ignores the basic laws of economics. Corporations don’t pay taxes, people do. In the case of Corbett’s proposal, it will lead to higher fuel prices for Pennsylvanians at the pump

In announcing his plan yesterday, Gov. Corbett stated that it is “time for oil and gas companies to pay their fair share.” Corbett’s statement betrays a lack of understanding about who it is that owns oil companies. Less than 2 percent of oil and natural gas industry shares are owned by corporate management. The rest are owned by tens of tens of millions of middle-class Americans through their retirement investments in 401(k)’s, IRAs, pensions and other vehicles.

Gov. Corbett doesn’t think oil companies are paying their “fair share”, but as ATR pointed out in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the energy industry has generated more than $7 billion in taxes, royalties, lease payments, and fees in the state over the past five years, along with tens of thousands of high-paying jobs.”  

Yes, there are roads and bridges across Pennsylvania in need of repair. But Pennsylvania can address these needs by prioritizing current spending. In fact, had Pennsylvania simply kept spending in line with population growth and inflation during the last decade, the state would have surplus of over $90 billion sitting in reserve. If infrastructure improvement is a priority, Pennsylvania lawmakers should make it one within in the current budget. 

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Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy's Odd Prioriities


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, January 11th, 2013, 3:02 PM PERMALINK


According to a tweet from the Democratic Governors Association this week, “CT's Dem Governor is Fighting to Bring an ‪#NHL Team Back to CT.” While it’s unclear why the DGA capitalized the first letter of every word in that tweet, it is a clear that Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy's priorities are quite skewed.

You may recall that Gov. Malloy made headlines with his FY 2012 budget, his first as governor, due to the fact that it included two dozen tax hikes totaling $2 billion, the largest tax increase in the state’s history. Malloy decided to soak taxpayers instead of fixing the state's real problem: overspending. Not surprisingly, despite those record breaking tax increases, Connecticut now faces another $2 billion deficit over the next two fiscal years. Expect calls for further tax hikes from Malloy's office.

Instead of righting the Nutmeg State's fiscal ship and addressing the state's massive unfunded pension liability, one of the worst in the nation, Malloy is focused on, as Malloy’s own DGA put it, fighting to bring a hockey team back to Hartford. Really? That tells you all you need to know about the prospects for recovery in Connecticut, at least while Malloy is governor. Maybe if Malloy fought as hard for taxpayers as he currently is for a hockey team Connecticut residents wouldn't have to work until September, longer than taxpayers of any other state, to pay for the cost of their government.

Folks in need of a good laugh should check out the DGA's Twitter feed, which is a non-stop source of unintentional hilarity. 

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Democratic Candidate for N.C. Governor Shares Perdue's Foot-in-Mouth Disease


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, September 21st, 2012, 6:51 PM PERMALINK


The following op-ed by Patrick Gleason, ATR's director of state affairs, was originally published by Nartional Review

As we hit the home stretch in the North Carolina governor’s race — one of the most hotly contested gubernatorial races in the country this year — Democratic nominee Walter Dalton is going into desperation mode and getting sloppy with his remarks in the process.

Earlier this week Americans for Tax Reform noted how Dalton unintentionally complimented his opponent, former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, by comparing him to Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. In the same speech where Dalton made those remarks last week, the Democratic nominee also criticized Pat McCrory for saying nice things about Tennessee’s lack of an income tax. Here again, it is pretty telling that Dalton disapproves of Tennessee’s tax system. Though I’m a native North Carolinian, allow me to volunteer a defense of Tennessee’s tax code, starting with the facts.

As the chart below shows, Tennessee, thanks in large part to superior fiscal policy, has outperformed North Carolina in nearly every major metric of economic competitiveness and performance during North Carolina’s Democratic Perdue-Dalton administration:

Tennessee vs. North Carolina, economies and governments compared

To continue reading, click here.

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Walter Dalton Claims McCrory Would Govern North Carolina Like Scott Walker


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, September 17th, 2012, 12:51 PM PERMALINK


Walter Dalton, North Carolina’s current Lt. Governor and Democratic nominee to be the state’s next governor, has been stepping up his attacks on Republican nominee Pat McCrory lately. On the campaign trail in Raleigh last Thursday, Dalton sought to tie McCrory to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. But a review of Walker’s record makes one wonder why Dalton finds this comparison to be a negative

Chief Executive magazine’s annual survey of CEOs on the best and worst states for business had Wisconsin making the biggest improvement of any state following Walker’s regulatory and labor law reforms in 2011, rising to 24th from 41st in 2010 and 43rd the year before that, one of the largest jumps in the survey's history. This year Wisconsin continued to improve, cracking the survey’s the top 20 for the first time ever. All but the most detached partisans will admit that Wisconsin has gone from one of the least friendly states to do business to one of the best in a relatively short period time thanks to Walker’s reforms, which also had the added benefit of preventing teacher layoffs and facilitating local tax relief.

But such surveys don't tell the whole story. While the Chief Executive magazine survey underscores Wisconsin's improvement under Walker, jobs numbers provide a better and more concrete understanding of his success. In fact, job creation is one area where Walter Dalton only wishes he could be compared to Scott Walker. By taking on the budgetary challenges facing his state and telling his constituents the truth, Walker has helped bring Wisconsin’s unemployment rate down from over nine percent when he took office to 7.3 percent today, one percentage point below the national average. Under the past four years of the Perdue-Dalton administration, North Carolina’s already high unemployment has only gone up, from nine percent when they assumed office in 2009 to 9.6 percent today. Walter Dalton may not like Walker’s policies, but he has to envy the results. It's clear that Walker's constituents are happy with the results, so much so that he is now the first governor in history to be elected twice in his first term.

Given this record, just the fact that Walter Dalton thinks a comparison to Scott Walker is an insult is quite telling. “If you elect my opponent, you will have Scott Walker in North Carolina for four years,” Dalton said last week. If properly educated on what Walker did in his state, many North Carolina voters will respond to Dalton’s allegation against McCrory with a “yes, please.”

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Ed Rendell Not the Best Surrogate for Obama


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, September 7th, 2012, 11:07 AM PERMALINK


Former Pennsylvania governor and current MSNBC contributor Ed Rendell was down at the DNC in Charlotte this week. As usual, Rendell used his time in front of the cameras to attack Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Yet Ed Rendell should shy away from discussing economic and budgetary issues, because when it comes to such matters, it’s clear from Rendell’s record as governor that he is throwing stones from a glass house.

Rendell and company blame Obama’s horrible economic record on the fact that he was “left with a mess.” As it would happen, Ed Rendell left his state in a fiscal mess and his successor, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had to step in and fix it. Corbett quietly went about eliminating the $4 billion deficit that Rendell stuck him with and did so without raising taxes and, unlike Obama, without whining about having to do the job that he applied for.

Spending and responsible budgeting are also topics that Rendell would be wise to leave alone. Rendell was governor of Pennsylvania from January 2003 to December 2010. Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Foundation found the following when analyzing state spending under Rendell:

“the state's total operating budget grew from $45 billion to $66 billion, while the General Fund Budget grew from $20 billion to $28 billion.  While inflation was under 20 percent, spending in Harrisburg increased by 47 percent.  This growth is unsustainable.”

In addition to imposing billions of dollars in higher taxes on a host of goods and services, Rendell also raised taxes on small business, hiking the personal income tax rate – the rate at which small businesses face taxation. However, Rendell is a fitting campaign spokesman in this respect, as President Obama is pushing for a federal tax hike on the majority of small business profits to kick in on January 1st, 2013.

Not surprisingly, Rendell’s tenure was not good for job seekers in Pennsylvania. In fact, if the topic of job creation ever comes up during one of Rendell’s appearances on MSNBC, he should really just take off his mic and leave the room. Under Rendell’s tenure, Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate rose by more than 39 percent, leaving his successor with an 8.5 percent unemployment rate. In fact, on his way out the door Rendell sought to raise taxes on what was one of the few bright spots of the Pennsylvania economy at the time - natural gas production. Gov. Tom Corbett has since been able to help bring unemployment back below eight percent while reducing spending and keeping taxes low.

Mitt Romney, who Rendell will continue to attack on the airwaves over the next two months, saw unemployment drop in Massachusetts during his time as governor. These are just a few things to keep in mind next time you hear Ed Rendell preach about good governance or attack Mitt Romney.

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New Study Shows Bag Tax Harmful to D.C.'s Fiscal Environment


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012, 2:35 PM PERMALINK


This week the Beacon Hill Institute issued a new study commissioned by ATR showing the economic damage done by the D.C. bag tax two years after implementation. For a copy of the full report, click here.

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Gov. Nikki Haley Stands Up In Defense of South Carolina Taxpayers


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, August 17th, 2012, 1:01 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform applauds South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley for her fiscally prudent decision to have government employees share in the sacrifice and pay a slightly higher premium for their taxpayer-funded health insurance.

Like Paul Ryan, Gov. Haley is confronting facts and telling the public the truth. The cost of health insurance for South Carolina government employees has spiked by over $11 million in just the last year and Palmetto State taxpayers are on the hook for rising costs.

As Gov. Haley noted in the Charleston Post-Courier this week, “in a tough economy and with so much uncertainty coming out of Washington about our health care system, businesses across South Carolina have seen rising health care costs. And those businesses are faced, just like our government is, with two options to tackle those increases: 1) pay for the costs entirely on their own, or 2) share the increase with their employees."

In light of this reality, the State Budget and Control Board, at the request of Gov. Haley, voted last week to have state government employees, who have already been awarded a raise this year, contribute slightly more to cover the rising cost of their health insurance.

The same media outlets that have no problem with the trillions in higher federal taxes proposed by President Obama are crying foul over Gov. Haley’s modest and necessary action. Here it’s important to keep in mind that Gov. Haley’s move to increase government employee contributions would amount to less than $8 per month on average per employee.

More importantly, Gov. Haley’s move will save the hard-working taxpayers of South Carolina around $5.8 million per year. ATR applauds Governor Haley for this fiscally responsible decision and for her principled defense of South Carolina taxpayers. While the Obama administration is ignoring mathematical realities and refusing to tell voters the truth, Gov. Haley once again shows that Republican governors are stepping up to provide leadership on fiscal and budgetary matters. 

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Nationwide Coalition Urges EPA Against Unprecedented Action


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, July 20th, 2012, 6:25 AM PERMALINK


This morning a coalition of non-partisan organizations from across the country sent a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson regarding a pending decision by the EPA that has signifcant economic implications. 

The EPA is currently considering whether to deny permits to develop what would be Pebble Mine in Alaska prior to the submission of a permit application. If the EPA were to take this unprecedented action, it would not simply kill jobs at a time when the economy desperately needs more jobs, it would be a major blow to states' rights and regulatory certainty. This nationwide coalition, of which Americans for Tax Reform is a member, expressed grave concern in today's letter to Jackson: 

"As this mineral exploration is occurring on state lands available for mining, our concerns are amplified even more. We agree with the Alaska Attorney General who believes that the EPA should drop this ill-advised approach that violates states’ rights.

The U.S. needs copper and we especially need jobs that come from resource development projects that propose significant investments, more than $6 billion in the case of Pebble. Such investment would have far reaching positive economic benefits not just for Alaska, but also for those American companies and workers who would build and supply a potential new strategic minerals mine.

Premature judgment and action by the EPA is cause for great concern, not just in Alaska, but across the country. Interested stakeholders should be able to gather information about the potential impacts of a mining plan, the potential economic effects, and the true risks of mining development near their communities once an actual plan has been proposed."

The signatories also warned agains the chilling impact such action would have on future projects: 

"As is the case with the EPA’s overreach in attempting to veto water permits for West Virginia’s Spruce Mine (appropriately rejected by the courts), vetoing a fill permit for a potential copper mine before a plan has been filed is another ill-advised power grab by the agency. This agency action would have a dramatic chilling effect on investment in America and show that many third world countries have more regulatory certainty than the U.S."

To read the letter in its entirety, click here

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Coalition of Groups Draws Attention to Anti-Free Enterprise Legislation in North Carolina


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, June 12th, 2012, 12:54 PM PERMALINK


A coalition of free market and conservative organizations sent a joint letter to North Carolina legislators this morning, calling attention to the increased costs and reduced access to dental care that would result from passage of SB 655/HB 698, protectionist legislation that is currently pending in the House.

ATR is proud to join the John Locke Foundation, the Civitas Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the National Taxpayers Union, in speaking out regarding the adverse economic consequences that would result from passage of SB 655/HB 698. While lawmakers continue to meet to try to find some sort of agreement, it is ATR's position that the best outcome for North Carolinians would be for this bill to be simply rejected. Americans for Tax Reform is urging legislators to vote "NO" on this misguided piece of legislation.

For a copy of the coalition letter that was sent to members of the North Carolina House this morning, click here.

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Walter Dalton Looks to Wack Small Businesses


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012, 5:05 PM PERMALINK


Small businesses. They are responsible for over 60 percent of job creation. They are like puppies. Everyone loves them. Even liberals who demonize business have to pretend to like small businesses. Yet in North Carolina, one of the top battleground states of the 2012 election, Democrats have put up a gubernatorial candidate whose policies would sock it to small businesses.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the Democratic nominee for governor, has announced his support for out-going Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposed sales tax hike. What the Dalton campaign is hoping voters don’t hear about, and the media ignores, is the disproportionate harm that sale tax increases have on small businesses.

A survey that was the first national measure of retailers’ sales tax compliance costs was conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2004. The report found that retailers with less than $1,000,000 in annual sales were burdened with sales tax compliance costs in excess of 13 percent of sales tax collected. Meanwhile, the big guys – retailers with income between $1,000,000 and $10,000,000 – had average compliance costs of less than six percent. The really big boys, retailers with more than $10,000,000 in sales, had compliance costs that were less than three percent on average.

That’s the problem with raising the sales tax. It most adversely impacts the little guys, both consumers and employers. Why then, with an unemployment rate well above the national average, is Walter Dalton seeking to disproportionately harm and reduce the job-creating capacity of employers who provide the lion’s share of jobs in the Tar Heel State.

That’s a good question and one that would be great for a moderator to ask in the first gubernatorial debate. 

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