This post originially appeared at www.fiscalaccountability.org
On August 19, 2010, Americans marked the national Cost of Government Day (COGD), the date of the calendar year when the average American finishes paying off his or her share of federal, state and local spending and regulatory burden. Taxpayers had to work 231 days out of the year just to meet all costs imposed by government.
Unfortunately Pennsylvania taxpayers have had to wait even longer, until today, August 25, to “celebrate” their Cost of Government Day. This means Pennsylvania ties with Virginia, Minnesota and Vermont as the 40th state to reach Cost of Government Day.
Cost of Government Day
is calculated every year by the Americans for Tax Reform Foundation and the Center for Fiscal Accountability. While other indices look primarily at taxation as a measure of the cost imposed by government, the annual Cost of Government Day Report takes into account the total spending burden as a percentage of GDP coupled with government regulations, an oft-forgotten, but significant burden also borne by the economy.
Pennsylvania’s recent trends suggest that things aren’t about to get better either: in the last eight years, taxes have gone up by $101.80 for every man, woman, and child in the state. In total, this amounts to $1.28 billion in new taxes.
This includes a closed-door agreement to raise a severance tax on natural gas, which was not included in the budget
but was outlined to go into effect before 2011. This will add to the burden already suffered by Pennsylvanians who will be on the hook for a projected $5 billion budget deficit next year due to the unrealistic budgeting gimmicks used by lawmakers to cobble together a spending blueprint for the year.
By relying on fantastical economic projections but refusing to tamp down on spending, legislators passed a $28 billion budget that relies heavily on federal funds and an elusive economic recovery to close the bottom line. Rather than cut spending, lawmakers sought to play politics; the budget includes $298 million in executive earmarks, $20 million of which will go to constructing edifices dedicated to Sen. Arlen Specter and the late Rep. John Murtha.
“Monuments to Me” and fanciful budgeting tactics are only a few signals of the culture that has pushed Pennsylvania’s Cost of Government Day to six days past the national average. With a structural deficit looming and little political will to cut back on state spending, absent significant reform the outlook for future Cost of Government Days is grim for Keystone State taxpayers.
For ATR and CFA's full press release, click here
Photo Credit: eaubscene