Tuesday, May 05, 2020
Covid-19 Solution: Lehigh County Politicians Want A Sales Tax AND Earned Income Tax
Now I have no idea why a Controller is injecting himself into policy considerations, but Pinsley is that kind of guy. No sooner was he elected Comm'r in South Whitehall that he began running for the State Senate. Having failed in that race, he was swept into office in Lehigh County as part of a blue wave.
Siegel impressed me as a former Allentown Mayoral candidate. But as a new member of Allentown City Council, he's been a disappointment.
While there are times when taxes must be raised, this is not one of them. We are going onto a recession and possibly a depression.
You can read their new tax proposal here.
In a Lehigh Valley full of tax handouts with names like KOZ and KRIZ, Pinsley and Siegel propose a RPD, a Regional Prosperity District. They would fund it with $105 million annually. A quarter of the money would go to the "creative economy." Another quarter would go to Lehigh County. The remainder would be distributed to "a municipal stabilization fund that will award municipalities money based on an equation to determine local fiscal distress." In other words, the money will go to Allentown.
Because the Lehigh Valley has no money trees, the next question is the source of this $105 million annual beneficence? Bill Gates? No. Mega Millions? No. The source is you, the taxpayer. What Pinsley and Siegel want are two brand new taxes. First, they would create a one percent addition to a regressive sales tax that already disproportionately impacts the working poor. Their excuse for this is that items like food would be exempt. Their second new tax is a 0.5% earned income tax. "Its minor rate is minuscule," they argue.
At a time when 21,000 in the Lehigh Valley have already filed for unemployment, this proposal is simply insane. Instead of imposing new taxes, I would think dedicated local officials would be demanding the state to start paying out the unemployment claims for the economic catastrophe it has declared is for our own good. As things stand, there will be no sales or income on which any tax can be imposed.
They note that 16% of Allentown's workforce is employed in what they call "high risk" industries. So they want to funnel money to artists and musicians because you know those jobs are solid. Really?
At a time when many Lehigh Valley residents are understandably worried about putting food on the table, I am simply astonished that these local officials would propose two new taxes. This is a gimmick under which the entire county will be forced to subsidize Allentown's government even though they have no role in electing the officials in the Queen City. It will also create a $25 million slush fund under which local officials can award money to their pals in the "creative economy," whatever that is. As blogger Michael Molivinsky observes in a related post, "best connected, best served."
Updated 10:10 am with information from a source within Lehigh County - "Joshua Siegel is an employee of the Controller’s Office,i.e. Pinsley. Siegel arrived in Lehigh County government as some sort of public information officer for Phillips Armstrong. He quickly demonstrated that he is clueless.I don’t know what his function is in the Controller’s office or what qualifications he has, if any, but he is on the roster. That may explain in part the connection between the two political opportunists and their advocacy for new taxes – which also offers an explanation for their mutual stupidity and tone deafness !"
I was under the misimpression that Siegel still worked as some sort of public information officer. I even mentioned this in my telephone conversation with this duo. They never corrected me. Perhaps they did not hear me.