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Crisis taxation: Time for discipline

As Democrats and Republicans argue over how best to tax Pennsylvania to good health, the clock is ticking for school districts.

What better way to force a statewide tax gouge — and to justify it in next year’s elections — than with a good, old-fashioned crisis stemming from the logjam over the state’s education funding.

Some districts already are running on fumes. Others say they can stick it out for a month or so without knowing what they’ll get from the state. But eventually the alarm will sound, and the Legislature will have to do something , which inevitably will cost John and Jane Q. Public plenty.

It was Gov. Ed Rendell, in a fit of stubbornness spawned by his legislative naivete, who vetoed more than $4 billion in education funding. Why• Because Fast Eddy didn’t get his way. He wants to force the Republican-controlled Legislature to pay for $560 million in new education initiatives, some quite dubious.

Never mind that public school tax revenue from state and local sources outpaced inflation by 102 and 133 percent, respectively, from 1988 to 2000, according to the Commonwealth Foundation.

The last thing the state needs is to hike the 2.8 percent personal income tax, as Democrats suggest. Nor are new sales taxes envisioned by Republicans going to boost Pennsylvania’s economy.

What the commonwealth needs is the fiscal discipline, and leadership , to live within its means.


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