Living Wages and Our Taxes

Living Wages

The per capita personal income for residents in Monroe County is $39,104 [1], and $42,332 for Pike County [2]. I believe these numbers are slightly skewed for a few reasons. They are not considering the difference in salary of a commuter who would make a larger income versus someone who works locally, nor are they considering how many jobs it takes a local worker to make over $22K annually.

Please take a moment and calculate what an accurate living wage should be in Monroe and Pike Counties, based upon household composition. You can search by state and by county. You might be surprised at how well you can survive on so little, and how much more your family needs to thrive.

-See below for the link to the Living Wage Calculator-

The living wage model “is a market-based approach that draws upon geographically specific expenditure data related to a family’s likely minimum food, childcare, health insurance, housing, transportation, and other necessities (e.g. clothing, personal care items, etc.) costs. The living wage draws on these cost elements and the rough effects of income and payroll taxes to determine the minimum employment earnings necessary to meet a family’s basic needs while also maintaining self-sufficiency.” [3]

PA has not raised its minimum wage of $7.25 an hour since 2009. Surely in almost ten years costs for food, clothing and gas have risen. Why not the minimum wage?

I support an immediate increase to Pennsylvania’s minimum wage and a workable plan to trigger the minimum wage for review as the cost of living increases beyond a set point. The incumbent is quoted in the Pocono Record saying she doesn’t believe in “mandates” to raise wages. I’ll let you decide.

The residents of the 189th District need more time with their families and a living wage, not more excuses from their elected officials.

If elected, I will fight for a respectable living wage that will give you more time with your families. Time is not promised to any of us.

1 Source: Personal Incomes - Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) – 2016

2 Source: Personal Incomes - Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) – 2016

3 http://livingwage.mit.edu/ LIVING WAGE CALCULATOR


 

Taxes

Shale Tax

The legislature in the House has focused primarily on one-time sources of revenue to sustain our budgets over solid, recurring revenue that hard-working Pennsylvanians can count on to provide much needed services. The recurring revenue we currently receive only provides Pennsylvania with about  $50-60 million dollars when about $500-600 million is needed. Despite bipartisan support for a strong Shale Tax, the House leadership will not move on proposed legislation as of December 2017.

Let’s be clear on who pays for what regarding Shale Tax. A shale tax paid by companies that engage in natural gas drilling — also known as the severance tax — typically doesn’t fall on the shoulders of Pennsylvania residential gas consumers in their bills since nearly all the natural gas produced in PA is sold out of state.

Pennsylvania is the only state that does not have a severance tax. We are the only one.

So, if we pay our fair share in taxes for gas we use from other states, why won’t the Republican leadership in the legislature demand that we receive our fair share in taxes for our gas used by other states?

If elected, I propose the implementation of at least a 5.0% severance tax to be combined with the existing impact fee per well to put Pennsylvania where it belongs among the average tax rates of states that have natural gas drilling.

It’s right for our state, and it’s right for the 189th District.

Personal and Corporate Taxes

Raising substantial recurring revenue without raising taxes on hard-working Pennsylvanians is difficult, but not impossible. There are logical ways like imposing a fair shale tax as described, but logic seems to escape Harrisburg at times. If they won’t do what they should do for our state, there are other creative ways to ensure substantial recurring revenues for our annual budgets:

1. Fair Share Tax: I strongly support legislation to create two subcategories of income for purposes of taxation: Wages and Other Income.

Wage tax would be lowered to approximately 2.8% from 3.07%, while income derived from things other than wages such as: lottery and gambling winnings, capital gains, rents, royalties, etc. would be taxed at 6.5% and could potentially bring in over two billion dollars in new and recurring revenues.

2. Delaware Loophole: 71% of corporations and mostly large multi-state corporations here in PA do not pay corporate taxes due to the “Delaware Loophole”. In turn, the full tax burden falls upon smaller, PA based corporations. This is unfair. PA must introduce “combined reporting” and join 26 other states that utilize it to generate the proper sales tax from these large corporations.

Combined reporting works like this: If you generate 25% of your sales here in PA, 25% of that income will be taxed here. Using combined reporting would allow Pennsylvania to reduce the current corporate tax rate of 9.9% and allow for greater overall growth and attract new businesses which will create more jobs for us.

If elected, I would introduce a bill for combined reporting and support closing the Delaware Loophole so PA can get exactly what we are owed-no more and no less.

3. Legalization of Recreational Marijuana for Adults 21 and Over:

I know this topic is controversial, but here’s the deal. Prohibition penalized everyday Americans for their social choice of consuming alcohol, just as marijuana use is penalized now. We now sell alcohol through the state, make tax revenue on it and put laws in place that penalize its misuse.

We can do the same thing with marijuana and achieve a few things. First, we could potentially see tax revenues on par with California and Colorado that register in the hundreds of millions to billions. An April issue of Forbes magazine has promising data. “According to a new report from New Frontier Data, states with legalized marijuana are on track to generate approximately $655 million in state taxes on retail sales in 2017. Within that tax figure, $559 million will come just from cannabis taxes, much more than from alcohol taxes.”1

Pennsylvania already has the infrastructure for the state to grow and sell already in place with the passing of medical marijuana here. It is draconian to place hard-working adults in jail and potentially ruin our young adults’ chances of meaningful employment down the line because they made a social choice.

In addition, polls show most Pennsylvanians indeed support full marijuana legalization.

Fifty-six percent of those asked in the latest Franklin and Marshall College poll dated September 2017 said all marijuana use should be legalized. Republicans and Democrats finally agree on something this year.

Pennsylvania’s own Auditor General hails the potential for increased revenue and job creation and reduction in corrections costs because of statewide legalization. “Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said today Pennsylvania should strongly consider regulating and taxing marijuana to benefit from a booming industry expected to be worth $20 billion and employ more than 280,000 in the next decade.” [3]

If elected, I would support legislation to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. I support finding the best way to safely introduce it and generate significant recurring revenue for our state that could reach billions of much needed dollars.

1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/debraborchardt/2017/04/11/1-billion-in-marijuana-taxes-is-addicting-to-state-governors/#616339e82c3b

2. https://www.pghcitypaper.com/Blogh/archives/2017/09/21/poll-shows-support-for-legal-recreational-marijuana-pennsylvania-auditor-general-says-time-to-legalize-is-now

3. http://www.paauditor.gov/press-releases/auditor-general-depasquale-recommends-regulating-taxing-marijuana-as-right-move-to-help-deal-with-critical-issues