State Senator Rob Teplitz has proved once again that he is more interested in gimmicks than practical solutions to the problems facing Pennsylvanians. Teplitz held a taxpayer funded “roundtable discussion” yesterday with other Democrat senators to discuss his budget proposals, but Teplitz’ ideas are not only a waste of time and money, but downright dangerous.
On top of the $150 thousand he’s already spent on mailings, Teplitz wasted thousands more of taxpayer dollars sending a full-color postcard to his constituents last week about this roundtable, even though it is clearly within the the 60-day pre-election period in which Senate rules are supposed to prevent legislators from electioneering using taxpayer funds. The most prominent features of the postcard were his name and photo. Furthermore, the event was held at 2:00 p.m. so few working people could even attend if they wanted to. Very few community members attended, and there were no audience questions.
The majority of Teplitz’ colleagues will rightfully dismiss his politically motivated proposal to stop legislators’ pay during a budget impasse because we all know what would happen. Weak-kneed legislators from both parties, and those who unlike Teplitz don’t have lucrative second jobs with lobbyist-law firms, would cave in to Gov. Wolf’s demands for higher taxes just to save their own pay, and the taxpayers would be left holding the bag. That’s not progress–it’s another bureaucratic scheme hatched by a career politician who hasn’t spent any time in the real world.
John DiSanto has spent his life in the business world, making tough decisions to get the job done right, on time and within budget. He never had taxpayers to bail him out, and that’s why he has developed a reform plan that actually benefits taxpayers:
Pass the Tax Code Before the Budget. Right now legislators pass their spending plan first and then use that to justify higher taxes. This is exactly the opposite of what families do–figure out how much they have to spend, based upon their income, before they go out and spend it. DiSanto believes legislators should decide how much they are willing to tax their constituents first, before they pass a final budget and surprise taxpayers with a last-minute tax increase.
Make it Harder to Raise Taxes. We need to put into place real safeguards for taxpayers when it comes time to balance the state budget. John DiSanto believes that we should do everything we can to make government live within its means, and that means making it harder to raise taxes. One provision of John’s plan will be a requirement for a super majority of the legislature to raise taxes. This will force both sides to compromise on any tax increase and earn support of a significant amount of members of both parties.
Pass the Taxpayer Protection Act. John believes that we need to reduce the overall size of government. While there is natural growth that results from the economy growing and the demand for services increasing with population changes, government growth in PA has far outpaced population and inflation. Since the 1970s population growth in PA has been 7% while the budget’s growth has been more than 1,000%. John will co-sponsor the Taxpayer Protection Act, which would limit growth in government to the rate of inflation plus population growth. Any revenue beyond that would be placed in the state’s rainy day fund or returned to taxpayers.
Sunset Every Tax Credit in the Tax Code. John DiSanto understands that tax credits can be an incentive for business activity. Many of the credits in the tax code also work as corporate welfare. John DiSanto will introduce legislation to sunset every tax credit in the tax code after 3 years. Extending a tax credit would require that the IFO (Independent Fiscal Office) do a comprehensive study on direct state revenues and indirect economic impact for each tax credit. Following this analysis, each tax credit will get an up and down vote by the legislature before the sunset date. Successful programs, like the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), can be renewed while ineffective credits can be eliminated.
End Taxpayer Funded Campaigning. Today legislators use taxpayer funded mailings and phone calls to influence the outcome of the election. John will introduce a bill to outlaw these types of communications in an election year. John also supports standardizing newsletters with public service information, not pictures of legislators.
DiSanto believes our legislators and governor should be able to meet the constitutional deadline of June 30 for a balanced budget. Unfortunately, our current senator’s proposals in this regard are gimmicks that have no chance of passing and, in fact, would lead to higher spending and taxes as self-serving politicians scrambled to protect their pay.
What we need instead is for our legislators to actually do their jobs rather than introduce unnecessary legislation. Imagine someone telling their boss to issue another company policy before they were going to follow their job description. Legislators should start discussions sooner and negotiate in good faith to meet the existing constitutional deadline. The only way we’ll get there is to have fewer career politicians and more citizen-legislators who actually demonstrate leadership and can get things done. With a batting average of 0 for 800 in passing legislation he drafted, that’s clearly not Rob Teplitz.