Is Rendell Nuts?

Pennsylvania governor confuses taxpayers with leprechauns

HARRISBURG, PA — In Gov. Ed Rendell’s FY 2008-09 budget address, he called for higher and new taxes that, if passed by the General Assembly, would generate more than $232 million in new tax dollars for state government to spend. However, when questioned about his new tax increases by KDKA political reporter Jon Delano, Rendell snapped back saying, “Are you nuts, Jon? Are you nuts?”

The governor argued that his proposed tax increase on property insurance premiums “isn’t a tax, it’s only 42 cents a year.” Rendell also referred to his proposed tax increase on electricity a “public benefits charge” because it would cost only 50 cents per month for an average homeowner. Of course, that same “benefits charge” would cost business entities up to $10,000 per year (or “1 million cents”).

“What is truly ‘nuts’ is for Gov. Rendell to think citizens won’t view $232 million in higher taxes as tax increases,” remarked Matthew Brouillette, president of the Commonwealth Foundation. “Every penny government deprives working men and women from taking home to their families is a tax, whether its 42 cents or 42 million cents. Nobody is fooled by Gov. Rendell’s illogical rants with the media.”

This is not the first time Gov. Rendell resorted to name-calling to attack critics of his budgetary plans for new and higher taxes, borrowing, and spending. Last year, Rendell called the Commonwealth Foundation “imbeciles,” Sen. Mike Folmer “certifiable,” and compared Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital to “that guy who ate all those people” for questioning his budget proposal.

“With Governor Rendell’s new logic that a tax is no longer a tax, but only “cents,” we decided to calculate the number of additional cents citizens are paying today since Gov. Rendell took office,” said Brouillette. “What we discovered is that lots of cents start to add up to lots of dollars.”

  • Personal Income Tax increase in 2004 (from 2.8% to 3.07%) only cost 25,000 cents per family of four each year ($1,000 total).
  • Capital Stock and Franchise Tax retroactive increase in 2003 only cost 4,600 cents per family of four each year ($230 total).
  • Gross Receipts Tax on cell phones and long distance services increase in 2004 only cost 12,200 cents per family of four per year ($488 total).

“We also found that during Gov. Rendell’s tenure total state spending increased by $10.5 billion in just five years. That’s 340,000 cents per family of four, or $3,400 more today than in 2002,” said Brouillette.

In Gov. Rendell’s FY 2008-09 proposal, he requested an increase of $2.3 billion in spending from state funds, or $750 per family of four. He also requested $3.3 billion in new borrowing—$1,060 per family for four—for new spending initiatives.

“Gov. Rendell continues to think working men and women are hoarding pots of gold from which he can dip in to,” said Brouillette. “But I think he’s confusing taxpayers with leprechauns.”

In his remarks to KDKA, Gov. Rendell went on to blast “terrible reporting by the press” and that “any fair reporter should take that press release [calling his tax increases “tax increases”] and mock it.” Additionally, he took shots at critics of his tax, borrow, and spend budget proposal saying they/we “can’t stand success.”

Apparently, Gov. Rendell considers the following performance measures a “success”:

From 2002 to 2007, Pennsylvania ranked

  • 38th in job growth,
  • 40th in personal income growth, and
  • 42nd in population growth among the 50 states.

Pennsylvania ranks

  • 39th Best State for Business by Forbes Magazine.
  • 37th Best State to do Business by CEO Magazine.
  • 34th State Competitiveness Report 2007 by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.
  • 44th on Economic Performance, 37th for Economic Outlook on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s State Economic Competitiveness Index.
  • F (tied for worst state) on the Alliance for Worker Freedom ’s Index of Worker Freedom.
  • 24th Best Policy Environment for Entrepreneurship by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.
  • 27th Best State Business Tax Climate by the Tax Foundation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch the KDKA video at

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The Commonwealth Foundation ( is an independent, non-profit public policy research and educational institute based in Harrisburg, PA.

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