Barrar cautions seniors on possible tax increase

State Rep. Stephen Barrar took his concerns over Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed tax increases to the residents of the Maris Grove retirement community Friday, saying taxes on their residences could increase by $2,400.

Barrar, the 10-term Republican representing the 160th Legislative District, told the crowd at the packed auditorium that the increase would be due to the governor’s proposal to raise the state sales tax from 6 percent to 6.6 percent and add 48 items — including monthly fees paid to nursing and residential care facilities — to things that would be subject to the sales tax.

As examples, Barrar said residents paying a monthly fee of $1,987 would pay an extra $1,574 per year in taxes. If the fee were $3,133 per month, taxes would jump by $2,481.

He said the reason for calling the town hall meeting was because the tax proposal hits the senior community the hardest, though everyone would be affected.

Also subject to the tax, if the proposal becomes a reality, would be accountant and investment service fees, hospice care, in-home nursing care, funerals, caskets and burial vaults, he said.

“I’ve always said there are politicians who want to tax you after you’re dead. This is proof,” he joked.

And for people putting children through college, textbooks would also be taxed. Barrar called that one of the “more egregious taxes affecting young people.” Educational books have always been exempt from the sales tax.

Barrar said he was planning to meet with the governor on the proposal, but urged the Maris Grove residents to contact the governor’s office to express their displeasure.

In addition to an increase in the sales tax, the governor’s plan would increase the state income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent.

In all, he said, Wolf’s tax proposal would increase taxes by $8 billion.

“The bill that was read reflecting the governor’s request for taxes was voted down by every single member of the House of Representatives, every single member, Republican and Democrat. None of them, nobody was willing to pass the governor’s tax bill…Even the Democrats had the sense not to vote for his proposal,” he said.

However, he said, Wolf is now saying there are more than 80 Democrats willing to vote for the increase, out the 103 total votes needed to pass the tax bill in the House. But, Barrar added, the Republicans still have a large enough majority in both houses to block it. A vote is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 7.

Barrar said he would not vote for the increase and is certain that state Sen. Dominic Pileggi won’t either, but again he urged the Maris Grove residents to phone, email or fax the governor’s office to express displeasure at the tax bill.

Barrar then addressed the state’s lack of a budget.

“We did pass a budget this year…It was a responsible budget. It increased spending by $1 billion, an increase of 3.6 percent. And revenues increased by 5 percent. A good sign, but the governor vetoed our budget…Governor Wolf is the first governor since WWII to veto an entire budget, not just some line items,” Barrar said.

He said the total veto caused “an incredible crisis in Pennsylvania,” especially in regard to human services such as medical reimbursements, another element affecting seniors.

In late June, Wolf vetoed the $30.2 billion budget sent to him, saying it called for no tax increases and failed to include the significant restoration of education dollars.

Barrar said the budget did increase education spending by $200 million.

At the time, Wolf released a statement that said: “The citizens of Pennsylvania sent us here to do serious work and to address the problems facing this commonwealth. This includes enacting a budget that contains fair and adequate education funding in part by implementing a commonsense severance tax, providing property tax relief to Pennsylvania families and seniors, fixing the structural deficit, and providing a sound plan to create jobs across this commonwealth. This budget does not accomplish these essential tasks, so I cannot, in good faith, give it my approval.”

Wolf also vetoed an interim $11 billion stopgap budget passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

In a prepared statement, he said: “Just like their sham budget in June, this stopgap budget makes it clear that Republican leaders not only want to do nothing to move the commonwealth forward, but they are intent on taking us backwards. If the Republican budget became law, our deficit would balloon to $3 billion.”

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.



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