Washed clean in the blood of the Lamb! If only I believed him…
Will Bunch on Gov. Tom Corbett’s new budget proposal:
If there was a moral to the story that Gov. Corbett spun Tuesday in his much-anticipated, first-ever budget talk, it was that all wealth is not viewed equally – at least not when it comes to Corbett’s notions about bailing Pennsylvania out of its $4 billion budget hole.
To middle-class state employees, to upwardly mobile college students at Pennsylvania-funded universities, to the working poor who’ve looked to Harrisburg for affordable health insurance, the newly inaugurated governor sent out more sacrifice signals yesterday than a third-base coach on a built-for-speed baseball team. He even urged that teachers take a one-year pay freeze — an issue not under his direct control.
“If government is here to share the taxpayer’s wealth then everyone needs to share in the sacrifice,” said the new governor, whose relaxed posture and shock of white hair threw off an aura of imperial calm, even as he metaphorically jabbed a budget dagger so sharp that would have made Caligula proud. “Educators, Pennsylvanians await your decision.”
But there’s another group that’s tapping into big-time wealth – a buried treasure right here in Pennsylvania — that isn’t facing those kinds of tough decision that causes a pay-frozen schoolteacher’s family to cut back on groceries or cancel a weekend down the shore.
That would be the economically booming, mostly out-of-state natural gas companies and their multi-millionaire CEOs, who continue to rapidly expand their aggressive form of drilling known as hydrofracking, or simply “fracking,” across large swaths of upstate Pennsylvania. The companies take in hundreds of millions of dollars without paying any dedicated Pennsylvania tax — even as such levies are imposed in the other 14 of the top 15 gas-producing states, even in red-state bastions of free-market libertarianism like Dick Cheney’s native Wyoming and George W. Bush’s Texas.
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Most family incomes in Bronxville are in the six and seven figures, ranking the village among the wealthiest enclaves in America. But even an additional $100 to $200 tacked onto property tax bills has met enough resistance to make town officials think twice.
Some residents argue that the town should be more businesslike, cutting other costs to offset the outlay for smaller classes. Peter P. Pulkkinen is one. A 40-year-old investment banker, he and his wife, Sarah, moved here in 2004 from the Upper East Side and their two oldest children are now in the first and third grades. He wants small classes for them. But rather than raise taxes, he would restrict the compensation of existing teachers — particularly their benefits.
Displaying a sheaf of charts and projections that he and a friend prepared for a school board meeting, Mr. Pulkkinen said in an interview that if property taxes continued to rise in Bronxville at roughly the trajectory of the last decade, they would double by 2020 — and by 46 percent in the unlikely event the “austerity budgets” of the last two years continued through the decade. “I think it is a false paradigm to have to choose between radically diminished services or exponentially higher taxes,” he said, “without first addressing the structural issue of teacher compensation.”
So far, he said, Dr. Quattrone and the school board have not done so. Instead, they have chosen “soft targets.” One hour a week of Spanish instruction to grade-school students, for example, was eliminated last year. Mr. Pulkkinen instead would attack “structural” expenses like tenure, the accumulation of unused sick days and the rising amount the school board pays for pensions and health insurance.
And he’s not even the tiniest bit aware of what that sounds like, coming from a member of the single most destructive (and heavily subsidized) industry in the nation. Amazing.
Oh, and here’s my other favorite part. Really, the rich are so often bastards, aren’t they?
“My income in retirement is pretty fixed,” Mr. McBride said, “and there comes a time when you have to say, ‘Whoa, whoa.’ ” Mr. McBride, who describes himself as “antispend, not antitax,” is reluctant to support the superintendent’s proposal to add two elementary school teachers without offsetting the cost.
“We outsourced the custodians last year and the teachers initially rebelled; that to me was inexcusable,” he said. “In private industry it could not have happened. When the boss says, ‘I have to have X amount of savings out of your division,’ you don’t say no.”
Poor retired man on his fixed income! This is a resident who can afford to pay $60,000 a year in real estate taxes, and he pushed to outsource custodians — who, of course, no longer make a decent living and no doubt lost their benefits.
Guillotines are too good for them.
Andrew Cuomo, a political whore who is determined never to lose an election like his father did.
$250,000 is nothing to the family of a brain-damaged baby, and he’s a tool for even suggesting it.