Tax and Spend Polices are Recipe for Disaster

My letter to the editor in the Post-Gazette:

The state’s tax-and-spend policies are a recipe for disaster
Sharon Ward’s Jan. 28 Perspectives piece (“Keep Spending, Pennsylvania”) argues that Pennsylvania is a low-tax, low-spending state and that state government spending will revitalize the economy. In making the first case, she uses very selective evidence; in the latter, she ignores all evidence entirely.

While I doubt many Pennsylvanians are seriously fooled into thinking they need to be taxed more, Ms. Ward’s data seems to indicate that Pennsylvania has low taxes relative to other states and taxes haven’t increased much.

However, she excludes almost half of state government revenue from her analysis and ignores local taxes in her comparison with other states, though many states rely heavily on state taxes and have few local taxes.

She compares government spending only as percentage of income, rather than to inflation, implying government should expand in order to take more from taxpayers, rather than grow only with the cost of providing its core functions.

In truth, Pennsylvania has the 11th-highest state and local tax burden in the country, according to the Tax Foundation, and has gone from middle of the pack (26th) to near the top, all since 1991.

Ms. Ward also contends Pennsylvania should keep spending taxpayers’ money to boost the economy. Yet, for six years, the Rendell administration has followed Ms. Ward’s advice, boosting spending by 36 percent, borrowing billions for “economic revitalization” grants, and spending more on economic development than 48 other states. During this time, Pennsylvania has lagged behind the rest of the nation in income, job and population growth.

More of the same is a recipe for economic disaster.