THE $100 HOMEOWNERS REBATE
DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH
Mr. President, not to digress from heating oil problems, which we all share an interest in, but tomorrow morning Governor Ridge is expected to make a major announcement regarding a tax relief program that was largely influenced and thought up by Senate Democrats.
Tomorrow morning, Mr. President, the Governor will tout a one-time, $100 tax credit for Pennsylvania homeowners. And while we are encouraged by that small step, we are also disappointed that it does not go far enough. What is needed in this Commonwealth is real tax relief, not a one-time political gimmick conveniently thought of during an election year. And forgive my cynicism, Mr. President, but it is just that during the past several weeks there has been much talk about out Democratic initiative that would return a portion of the State’s surplus back to homeowners in the way of a credit for property tax to school districts.
The Senate Democrats’ Home-STAR plan focuses on providing real tax relief for working families and senior citizens whose incomes are already limited. For the most part, this initiative has been ignored by Governor Ridge and the Republican Majority in the State Legislature, or at least it was until we finally pounded away enough and got their attention.
The Governor’s proposal looks an awful lot like our Home-STAR program. In fact, several of our Democratic Members call it what it really is, Home-STAR Lite. Ironically enough, Mr. President, when we announced the plan last summer, we were vehemently fought. Some Republicans in this Chamber called it a gimmick, while others downplayed the amount of savings that a family could keep for themselves, and that was when it was at $129. Others went so far as to say it was political pandering at its worst and an instant gratification plan.
That, Mr. President, brings me to my next point. It looks to me as if the Ridge administration is doing just that. A one-time plan does not help the people of Pennsylvania. In fact, it cons them, Mr. President. It makes them believe that the Republican majority really cares about them, when, in essence, they are providing a short-term, single scheme. It is fooling them, Mr. President, rather than providing them with something real.
We Senate Democrats will continue to push for our meaningful tax proposal by calling on every member of this Chamber, Democrat and Republican, to adopt a real Home-STAR plan and not settle for Home-STAR Lite. We will continue to push our plan and our program as it is written: The State will return one-half of its surplus to school districts during those years of economic prosperity when it is above 1 percent. That, Mr. President, is real tax relief. It is continuing tax relief. It is not aimed at scoring points during an election year. If it is good enough in the year 2000, it also should be good enough in the year 2001, 2002, and forever.
Mr. President, whenever Governor Ridge proposes a business tax cut, it lasts forever; why can we not do the same for middle class taxpayers and homeowners by giving them permanent tax relief? And we are not even going to be pigs about this like the business community is. We are saying that those taxpayers only get it when there is a huge surplus. Mr. President, we urge the Governor, but more importantly we urge our colleagues in this Chamber to join with us, to stand up against the Governor, and to do what is right by middle class taxpayers throughout this Commonwealth.
In closing, Mr. President, we thank the Governor for having seen the light. We only wish, he would have gotten the complete vision.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo