Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

PA taxes: never enough

Two new reports suggest that maybe all is not well run in Harrisburg.

PA taxes: never enough

Couple of (your) money issues just caught my eye.

First, the state Revenue Department reports that tax collection is down for the fourth straight month, putting the Commonwealth $176 million behind for the fiscal year ending in July.

Second, Harrisburg's WHTM-TV reports on a right-to-know request filed with the Office of General Counsel showing that the executive branch spent $32.6 million last year on outside lawyers -- which is actually less than was spent during Gov. Rendell's last year in office.

This is despite the fact the governor's office and agencies under its control employees roughly 500 lawyers. But, hey, governors of both parties have lots of friends and contributors who work for and/or run big law firms.

So surely you can understand the need, or at least the incentive, to share (your) wealth.

Among recent cases and costs highlighted in WHTM's report: $3.5 million for Gov. Corbett's flopped lottery privatization effort; nearly $1 million for still-unimplemented, possibly dead voter ID; more than $631,000 for the failed lawsuit against the NCAA for Penn State sanctions; and, so far, more than $63,000 to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

I figure since your Legislature maintains a pretty rich slush fund -- some of which, ironically, is being used to pay for, don't laugh, ethics training -- that last year stood at $140 million, our "leaders" could do some addition, total their excesses and, you know, fix that collections gap right quick.

Another option, of course, is maintaining the status quo here in Pennsylvania, the land of low expectations.



John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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