Monday, April 24, 2006

Other Monday bits (late edition)

  • Philadelphia's tax burden is relatively high. Business, property, wage, income... What to do?

  • The Philadelphia school system is working with the local Building/Trades Council to set up a system of apprenticeships for interested graduates. Delicate racial sensibilities appear to be involved, but it seems like the agreement would be a win for both students and unions, if the four-year training leads to new additions to the skilled trades.

  • John Baer applauds Councilwoman Blackwells' proposal to have Philadelphians vote their views on the Iraq war, because even symbolic actions made a difference.

  • The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a bill to require that translators be made available to criminal defendants in the state. The Senate passed a bill last summer, and the House is hoping to vote on theirs by this summer. Seems like a good idea, when the alternative is to hope that bystanders or family members can convey the critical information correctly...

  • Three stories concerning development questions:

    1. The Daily News notes the scarcity of information about the planned Trump condo tower on the Delaware River, and how this project might dovetail with others being discussed. Also unclear is how Rendell's recent riverfront moratium affects these plans.

    2. A second story looks at a slew of tall buildings planned for along the river. They all seem to be condos. Again, the moratorium could slow or prompt reconsideration of some of these towers.

    3. Finally, the paper's editorial page applauds the governor's moratorium, suggesting that the state should revalue its "riparian rights" to reflect the new trendiness of the area, and that the city should give some thought to how it wants its shoreline to develop, especially for the public (as opposed to corporate) good. I agree in principle, but have no sense of the degree to which the cows are already out of the barn...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What to do about high taxes?

Cut 'em!

I know we live in a country and political environment when the ruling party at the federal level yells TAX CUTS, TAX CUTS as a solution to any problem. And they are wrong in almost every case.

But Philadelphia's situation is one where reducing taxes will attract businesses and citizens we are currently losing to proximate suburbs, ultimately maintaining or increasing revenue for public services.

To see so many progressives offer knee-jerk reactions to the mere notion of reducing taxes in Philadelphia is a source of ongoing heartache for me.

The main quality we should look for from elected officials is effective problem-solving. Instead, we typically get ideology (at the national level) or nepotism and opportunism (at the local level). Being blindly opposed to change or differing viewpoints is one of the greatest shortcomings of our national government. Sadly, the local community of young, self-dubbed "progressive" bloggers too often shares this characteristic - just in the opposite direction.

9:03 AM  
Blogger ACM said...

Perhaps you could indicate to me where in "what to do?" you find such an objectionable recommended program of knee-jerk whatever.

In the short term, you can't just cut all taxes without a plan for what other revenues will come in (now, not in ten years) and/or what expenditures can be cut as well. There are jobs and services, from roads to police, depending on the current budget, and just pulling the plug from the drain doesn't leave you with a functioning municipality (while you wait for all those businesses and yuppies to come racing in)...

I mean, I'll take "big vision without substance" for $400, Alex...

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right - we can't have dramatic tax cuts right away. But we can have a long-term, let's say 10 year, plan that sets goals and assesses where we stand at regular intervals.

I believe we can scrap the BPT for a different tax on businesses and get the wage tax down to 3%. It may take us 10 years to get there, but that's where vision and disciplined management and leadership come in - something that's all too lacking in our City Hall and Council chambers.

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A major dissapointment for me is Mayor Street and his refusal to implement more significant tax cuts. He continues to block City Council's efforts to cut the BPT and wage taxes.

Will there ever be a better opportunity for Philadelphia to cut taxes? We are in the middle of a real estate boom, the state is about to commit gaming revenues to lower the wage tax, and we are finally about to move to full valuation property assessments.

I understand that taxes are necessary to provide city services. But Mayor Street is missing out on an excellent opportunity to finally move to a more equitable tax balance in Philadelphia, one that does not punish workers or businesses or anyone else disproportionately.

12:25 PM  

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