Sunday, December 31, 2006
Hawai'i's high cost of living is set to rise as a host of taxes and rate increases takes effect with the ringing in of the new year.
O'ahu shoppers will notice it at the cash register with a general excise tax surcharge of 0.5 percentage points being added to their bills.
At service stations, there will be an about 11-cent increase as a state tax break expires. On the docks, it will cost more to bring in a Mainland container and handle it, while monthly Medicare costs will climb.
Those are just some of the increases scheduled as government raises money for a rail system and businesses increase rates to fund improvements or cover other costs. On the flip side, the state is increasing the standard deduction for income taxes and adjusting tax brackets. Gov. Linda Lingle also wants to use $300 million of the state budget surplus for other tax relief. But for now, many people will see an increase in their expenses that could outstrip wage gains.
While 14 other states also increased taxes in 2006, New Jersey alone boosted taxes nearly as much as the entire country cut them. Overall, states cut taxes $2.1 billion in 2006, the report found.
The findings were no surprise to Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine who, along with fellow Democratic leaders, approved the tax hikes to close a projected $4.5 billion budget deficit. The move wasn't easy: The legislative dispute around it shut down state government for a week, and caused Atlantic City's casinos to close their doors briefly.
"We have not been managing the finances of the state in a way that is reflective of sound fiscal policy," Corzine, who took office a year ago, said in a recent interview.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Friday, December 29, 2006
"Specifically, the Democrat (Gov-elect) says he wants the support of incoming House Speaker Benny Petrus.
"He's been very forthcoming and candid that he doesn't want to do it," Beebe told radio station KARN's "First News" program on Thursday. "I've been very forthcoming and candid that I do want to do it."
"Petrus, D-Stuttgart, has said he would rather see a targeted rebate or refund for those with middle and low incomes instead of an overall grocery tax cut. Beebe, elected in November, campaigned on phasing out the six-cent tax over time."
Letter to Washington Post Editor from US Comptroller:
The largest employer in the world announced on Dec. 15 that it lost about $450 billion in fiscal 2006. Its auditor found that its financial statements were unreliable and that its controls were inadequate for the 10th straight year. On top of that, the entity's total liabilities and unfunded commitments rose to about $50 trillion, up from $20 trillion in just six years.
If this announcement related to a private company, the news would have been on the front page of major newspapers. Unfortunately, such was not the case -- even though the entity is the U.S. government.
To put the figures in perspective, $50 trillion is $440,000 per American household and is more than nine times as much as the median household income.
The only way elected officials will be able to make the tough choices necessary to put our nation on a more prudent and sustainable long-term fiscal path is if opinion leaders state the facts and speak the truth to the American people.
The Government Accountability Office is working with the Concord Coalition, the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation and others to help educate the public about the facts in a professional, nonpartisan way. We hope the media and other opinion leaders do their part to save the future for our children and grandchildren.
DAVID M. WALKER
Comptroller General of the United States
Government Accountability Office
"Just 16% of voters believe that the federal government today reflects the will of the American people. A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 Likely Voters found that 68% disagree. Those figures reflect a sharp decline from the 1990s when more than 30% of voters routinely thought that government reflected the will of the people."
In State Lobbying Events
Lobbyists Disclosure of Immediate Family Members Who Are Public Officials/Candidates
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
"Today's "progressives" want to expand political control of incomes even more. They call it "social justice" but you could call it Rumpelstiltskin and it would still mean politicians deciding how much money each of us can be allowed to have.
It is also worth noting that the people who are said to be earning "obscene" amounts of money are usually corporate executives. There is no such outrage whipped up when Hollywood movie stars make some multiple of what most corporate executives make.
This is social or ideological bias added to envy and ignorance. It makes quite a witches' brew on which to base national policy.
Lofty talk about "social justice" or "fairness" boils down to greatly expanded powers for politicians, since those pretty words have no concrete definition. They are a blank check for creating disparities in power that dwarf disparities in income -- and are far more dangerous."
Tommy Bragg is the Mayor of Murfreesboro and the current President of the Tennessee Municipal League. So it falls his lot to "represent" the "interests" of local elected officials. "Why", you ask, "would we need a group to represent the interests of local officials?" Wouldn't they be the same as the local citizens they represent?
The taxpayers of Murfreesboro pay the dues to the Tennessee Municipal League for the City of Murfreesboro. What do the taxpayers of Murfreeboro and taxpayers of all other TML member cities get in return for these dues?
Mayor Bragg and TML actively oppose any changes in the Open Records and Open Meeting Laws to make local government more open and transparent.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
"He also continued writing. From a state policy perspective, one of the most notable examples was a 1992 Tennessee Bar Journal article that argued a state income tax as proposed by then-Gov. Ned McWherter would violate Tennessee's constitution - a contrast to official opinions issued by other attorneys general."
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Waffle House managers may not be talking about the store's policy on cell phone etiquette, but the customers certainly are.
"Nobody wants to hear somebody talking over their cell phone," says Ken Wilson. "The best thing you can do if you want to use your cell phone is to step outside."
Lee Walker agrees with Wilson. "Sometimes you can be kind of loud on a cell phone," he says. Voices do carry. And if someone's trying to enjoy a meal, I think they should at least tone it down."
That's something William Arnold says he'll keep in mind next time he's dining and dialing.
"I'll continue to use my mobile phone," he says. "But, you know, I'll also use some courtesy and discretion depending on where I'm at."
Arnold says loud music was playing on the juke box inside the Waffle House restaurant and his voice was a bit louder than normal because of that. He says he tried to explain that to the manager and feels he was treated unfairly.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Wake up and smell the money. Your used clothes are usually sold, not given away.
According to various estimates, here's what happens to your clothing giveaways. In most cases, a small amount of the items, the best quality castoffs — less than 10 percent of donations — are kept by the charitable institutions and sold in their thrift shops to other Americans looking for a bargain. These buyers could be people who are hard up, or they could be folks who like the idea of a good deal on a stylish old item that no longer can be found in regular stores.
The remaining 90 percent or more of what you give away is sold by the charitable institution to textile recycling firms. Bernard Brill, of the Secondary Recycled Textiles Association, told ABC News: "Our industry buys from charitable institutions, hundred of millions of dollars worth of clothing every year."
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Great article in the WaPo about agricultural subsidies. These subsidies are not now and never were about preserving family farms, they are about funneling taxpayer dollars to groups that have huge lobbying and campaign contribution budgets.
John Phipps of Chrisman, Ill., harvested nearly 170,000 bushels of corn and soybeans last year on two square miles of fertile soil. He grossed nearly $500,000, putting his farm in the nation's top 3 percent. Still, he received $120,000 in subsidies.
"It's embarrassing," Phipps said. "My government is basically saying I am incompetent and need help.Several hundred miles northwest, Thomas Oswald farms the same Iowa fields that his relatives worked more than a century ago. The land he rents is about one-third the size of Phipps's, and Oswald's subsidies are much smaller. Oswald contends that federal payments are helping to fuel a spike in land prices that favors the wealthy."
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
You authorize three different local government agencies to give lower taxes to selected businesses. This program is called PILOT, an acronym for payment-in-lieu-of-taxes. It is an open invitation to corruption by empowering local politicians to pick and choose who gets lower taxes. PILOTs also transfer the tax burden away from these new businesses to homeowners and make future hikes more likely. PILOTs are awful, terrible public policy.
Monday, December 18, 2006
State tax collections miss budget estimate
it should read:
Budget Estimate misses State Tax Collections
Its seems silly to base the State Budget on an "expert" prediction of what revenue is likely to be, which is always wrong of course, and not on the actual amount of collections from the previous year.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
It makes me cringe when I hear people talk about the "Bush" economy or the "Clinton" economy. GOVERNMENT DOES NOT CREATE PROSPERITY, we the citizens create our own prosperity. What we need government to do is preserve our freedom to choose whatever employment or business opportunity we believe is best for us.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Why does the Dept of Revenue self righteously wag their finger at the citizens each year and tell us we should be paying a tax for which there is no easy and reasonable collection mechanism? Clearly, Tennessee has been balancing the State budget for many years without this uncollected and unenforceable tax. Why don't our elected representatives simply admit the obvious and eliminate this tax?
That would be too easy, of course. Government has an unquenchable appetite for our money and they will soon be reaching across State lines via the Streamlined Sales Tax. Our own Department of Revenue is playing a major role in this project.
"Using data from the Census Bureau, the report found that states with the lowest tax rates enjoyed sizable decreases in poverty. For example, the 10 states with the lowest total state and local tax burdens saw an average poverty reduction of 13 percent - two times better than the national average. The 10 highest-tax states, meanwhile, suffered an average increase in poverty of 3 percent."Lower tax burden means more economic growth which means more jobs which means less poverty.
Friday, December 15, 2006
"Not a tax that burdens the community" ? Ok, well heck, if that is the case let's raise that sucker to 50% and raise some REAL money for the Chamber of Commerce.
The board requested the state legislature approve a private act increasing the local tax from four percent to seven percent.
According to City Recorder Bill Lyons the revenue generated through the lodging tax, approximately $34,000 in the 2005-06 budget year, is divided equally among the city general fund, the Rogersville Heritage Association and the Rogersville/Hawkins County Chamber of Commerce.“The good thing about this is it is not a tax that burdens the community,” Nancy Barker, executive director of the chamber of commerce said. “This tax is paid by people who come in and lodge in our city, and it is a tax that people who stay in hotels are accustomed to paying.”
Seriously, this is all pretty depressing. Chambers of Commerce were once a bastion of the free market principles. They have morphed into just another special interest group looking for a taxpayer handout.
"Most of the statistical tables, which come from a variety of government and other sources, are presented raw, without caveats; and because the abstract is so concrete, the statistics can suggest false precision. The table of consumer products involved in injuries does not explain, for example, that one reason nearly as many injuries involve beds as bicycles is that more people use beds."
Much like Bono, who moved his music business to avoid higher taxes.
By the way, what does it say about France when their top selling rock star is 63 years old???
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Doug Goddard is the lobbyist for the Tennessee County Commissioners Association. He lobbies for the County Commissioners who are elected by the citizens. So what has he done for Tennessee citizens lately?
Here is an AP report on how he opposed the new open meetings law which was killed last session: "Doug Goddard, executive director of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association, called open-meetings violations isolated incidents and said the proposed changes would go too far.
Setting a penalty for violations could scare off qualified candidates from seeking office, Goddard said. "You're just going to have nuts out there who want to burden local governments," he said.Here is an AP report on his meeting with Senator Norris yesterday where he said, "The head of the county commissioners group in Tennessee says local governments won't join a program to freeze property taxes for elderly property owners if the Legislature makes it "too rich."
The legendary Tea Party strikes us as quaint, almost childish: men disguising themselves as Indians, like kids on Halloween, then stealing out one night to destroy a shipment of tea. And all over a tax so tiny we smile. (Or so we think.) Oh, for problems as simple as our forefathers'!
But we actually confront the same problem. The issue was not taxation, with or without representation. The evil that sparked the Boston Tea Party stalks us today: the alliance of money, power, and weapons that subjugates the many for the benefit of the few. We call it fair trade, protectionism, corporatism, the military-industrial complex. The colonists knew it as mercantilism and fought it in the British East India Tea Company.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Now, Shelby Watchdog decided to visit a couple of City golf courses in Memphis and finds that Memphis taxpayers are also getting the shaft!!!
Taxpayers should not be paying for Golf Courses!!!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Maybe, just maybe our Metro Davidson Council will draw inspiration from Spring Hill....which by the way was the first city in Tennessee to pass a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
Much like the Republicans in the US Congress who became more beholden to special interests than taxpayers, the NJ Dems know that public employee unions produce millions of dollars of contributions for Democratic candidates and thousands of man hours of campaign work and they are very reluctant to offend the unions, they are much more likely to offend taxpayers.
Of course tax decisions are really decisions about spending and how to make hard decisions about prioritizing which expenditures are more important than others. Legislative bodies are rarely able to distinguish among spending priorities.
It ain't looking good for New Jersey Property Taxpayers.
Monday, December 11, 2006
One thing you learn very quickly when you get involved in the legislative process (state and local) is that MOST of the support for tax increases comes from within the government. Associations of government officials pay for lobbyists to lobby AGAINST the very taxpayers who provide the dues to fund these organizations.
"Georgia revenue officials are seeking to dock the legislative pay of three state lawmakers for failing to pay their income taxes, a problem that has plagued several others in the General Assembly in recent years.
State tax officials have set their sights on three Democrats in the House : Reps. Al Williams of Midway; LaNett Stanley-Turner of Atlanta; and Joe Heckstall of East Point, according to records obtained through Georgia's Open Records Act.
They are among at least 11 lawmakers from both parties — including a committee chairman — who have fallen behind paying taxes to the state they represent since 2003.
"Most people expect those that we entrust to make the laws to uphold them and that does include being right by the tax laws," said Bill Bozarth, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, a government watchdog group. "It should cause their constituents to look at them more closely."
Sunday, December 10, 2006
In addition, labor unions spend millions to pass laws to protect their legal monopolies in the labor market. So called "consumer groups" spend millions to lobby for laws that restrict our choices in the market place. And all the while our precious freedoms slip away.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Here is the Instapundit Report.
Here is the vote.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
"Over the last two years, the FBI has convicted more than 1,060 government employees involved in corrupt activities, to include 177 federal officials, 158 state officials, 360 local officials, and more than 365 police officers. In FY 2005 alone, the Public Corruption Program saw a 25% increase in public corruption cases investigated, resulting in 890 indictments, 759 convictions, and 2,118 cases still pending. There are 622 agents currently working public corruption matters, an increase of 264 since 2002.
One investigation to note is the Phoenix Division’s Lively Green investigation. This involved up to 99 indictable subjects who used their positions in the military to facilitate the smuggling of several hundred kilograms of cocaine across the U.S./Mexican border."
"The GAO audit found that numerous aid applicants received duplicate
rental aid, with FEMA in one case providing free apartments to 10
people in Plano, Texas, while sending them $46,000 to cover
out-of-pocket housing expenses.
Another $20 million was wasted on thousands of individuals who claimed
the same property damage from both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. FEMA
also paid at least $3 million to more than 500 ineligible foreign
students in the stricken Gulf Coast, the report said."
This is a good time to remind ourselves that ALL the POWER, ALL the AUTHORITY, and ALL the MONEY which government possesses is granted to it BY THE CITIZENS.
Government has NO authority and NO Power and NO MONEY unless the people authorize such power and authority and money.
How about giving TAXPAYERS a break!!
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Governor Phil Bredesen has lots of things he wants to accomplish: 1- a massive expansion of Pre-k, 2- Many different variants of expanded health care coverage to be explored in the wake of TennCare reform, and 3- increased funding for education, both k-12 and higher ed just to name a few (without commenting on the efficacy of these programs.)
The taxpayers of Tennessee deserve to know, in detail, HOW these items will affect the long term fiscal health of the State of Tennessee Budget.
Governor Bredesen, like everyone you have good intentions. Unlike everyone else you have an extraordinary amount of power to use taxpayer money to fund your good intentions. You also have an extraordinary responsibility to inform taxpayers how much your good intentions will impact the tax portion of our family budgets long term.
Creating a "crisis", by overspending, is a favorite tactic of those who want to raise taxes or impose a State Income tax. Taxpayers demand detailed information about the long term impact of the funding required for your many good intentions. We need to know NOW!