Meadville Tribune

Opinion

June 19, 2013

On the 12th month of '13 your state tax paid for ...

Local state rep. breaks down how much state tax pays for what over a calendar year

HARRISBURG — The $28.3 billion budget we passed in the state House a few days ago has such large numbers it is hard to grasp, so I am going to put it in terms of the taxes people pay. I will describe the budget based on how many days people have to work to cover each part of it. I converted it to the state taxes people pay, such as the 3.07 percent personal income tax and 6 percent sales tax to how many days it takes to fund each item.

We collect about $77.6 million in taxes each day and we spend about $77.6 million a day. If an item costs $1 billion, it takes about 13 days of taxes to pay for it.

We basically make you work almost five months to pay for education and higher education. From Jan. 1 to May 29, you pay for education and higher education. Broken down a little, in that five-month period, 20 days are for school employee retirement funding, 13 days are for special education funding, 71 days are for basic education funding and four days are to fund school renovation projects, such as East End. Seventeen days fund higher education such as state colleges like Edinboro University, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency student grants, Penn State University and the University of Pittsburgh.

From May 30 to Aug. 20, or 83 days, you pay for medical programs for more than 2 million people. One in six Pennsylvania residents are already covered, but if the governor agrees to Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, it would add several hundred thousand more people. It takes from Aug. 21 until Oct. 17, or another 57 days, to pay for the other welfare programs.

From Oct. 18 to Nov. 11, you pay for state prisons over that 25 days and it takes 15 days from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26 to pay for state debt that was used to finance state-supported building projects.

After paying taxes for the first almost 11 months of the year, people have paid for six things: education, higher education, medical programs, welfare programs, prisons and debt. What about the last month of the year?

That last month of the year you pay for all other general fund spending. Some of the remaining departments and major items include the Department of Agriculture, the Attorney General, the Auditor General, the Civil Service Commission, Department of Community and Economic Development, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health, the Department of General Services, the Historical and Museum Commission, the Insurance Department, the Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Military and Veteran’s Affairs, the Department of Revenue, the Department of State, Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the State Police, the courts, the Legislature, and the governor’s office.

That is the 365-day budget proposal. You now know how your hard-earned money is being used each day. Take this with you when you go to work or go to the store so that you know what you are paying for that day.

Roae represents the Sixth Pennsylvania House Legislative District, which includes Meadville, Titusville and eastern Crawford County.

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