BCP Submitted Resolutions

On Tuesday May 03, 2011 the Berks County Patriots submitted a Right to Work Resolution to every member of the PA House of Representatives Labor and Industry Committee. Attached to the Right to Work Resolution were the headers identifying the resolutions for state employee pension and school property tax.

Berks County Patriots

Resolution 4212011-1

 

Right to Work

 

Background

 

In its American sense, the term signifies man’s inherent right with the opportunity to seek and retain gainful employment which he desires based on qualifications. This right need be unfettered by biased restrictions or conditions. Being compelled to belong to any private organization including a labor union as a condition of employment is inconsistent with the fundamental and traditional American values of liberty and freedom of choice. Employees should have the right to form and join private organizations such as a labor union and the concomitant right to abstain from membership and from making any agency shop or fair share payment without compromising ones right to gainful employment. Denying this right is contrary to basis on which our Republic was founded. When weighing individual liberty against the authority of the organization, the rights of the individual must prevail.                                  

Ref: Pennsylvania Supreme Court case opinion, Erdman vs. Michell, 207 Pa. 79, 80 and 91-92 (1903), concerning Article I. This case opinion specifically refers to Article I, sections 1 and 25 of the Pennsylvania Constitution (citizen’s inherent rights).

Beyond the guarantees of fundamental liberties, Pennsylvania citizens are at a competitive disadvantage with Right to Work states when competing for skilled labor and industry. Corporations and workers are fleeing our state for other areas with a more reasonable business climate.

 

It doesn’t make sense to spend millions of dollars on education of our children and then have them move out of state because they cannot find employment due to lack of industry in the state.

 

Finally, numerous independent surveys have clearly revealed that the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvania’s residents support a Right to Work statute in our Commonwealth, confirming that its passage is long overdue. Therefore,

 

Resolution:

Be it resolved that the Berks County Patriots join with tea party organizations across the Commonwealth and petition the Pennsylvania Legislature to enact PA House Bills 50(Right to Work), 51, 52, 53(Fair Share Dues Protection for teachers and public employees).

Further, that this resolution be forwarded to all members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate.

 

Berks County Patriots, 1,000 plus members

 

James Billman, Chairman

 

 

Rodney E. Miller, Legislative Research Chairman

 

© Berks County Patriots 2011

BERKS COUNTY PATRIOTS

Resolution 4212011-2

State Employee Pension Reform

  • Our State pension system is in crisis.  This includes the state system for state employees, local employees, school teachers, and legislators.
  • Pennsylvania State pensions are defined-benefit plans, which must maintain the contracted level of retirement benefits whether times are good or bad.  In bad economic times, such as these, when the pension funds don’t earn enough to cover these benefits, the benefits cannot be adjusted to compensate.  Consequently, taxpayers must make up the difference during periods when it is most painful.
  • By contrast, with defined-contribution plans, which are common in the private workplace, the employer contribution is fixed, and it is the benefits which fluctuate to reflect changes in the economy and returns on fund investments. This type of plan allows for more consistent planning and budgeting without fear of big surprises threatening to destroy your plans.
  • Defined benefit plans were originally based on the concept of public service.  Young teachers and state workers were often told that they would never make a lot of money in public service jobs, but would enjoy the benefits of job security and good, solid pensions at the end of their careers.  Government pensions were legitimately seen as leveraging the compromise between lower public service wages and what one might earn working in the private sector. In many cases, people graduated from college with teaching degrees in the 1960s or 1970s only to end up working in business careers when they found that teaching simply didn’t pay the bills.
  • Today, the “public service compromise” rationale is no longer valid, because, frankly, most government employees are much better compensated than their private sector counterparts.
  • And, now the plans are in trouble and the pension system is coming with their hand out.
  • SERS, the State Employees Retirement System, is currently funded at 69% and PSERS, the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System, is funded at 79.2%.   SERS is down to one contributing active worker for every annuitant, a situation which is not sustainable. By 2014, employer (taxpayer) contributions, which have normally been set at 4% of salaries, will increase to 29.2%, and remain there until at least 2032.
  • PSERS employer contributions are also scheduled to increase, from 5.64% this year, to 29% in 2013.  If past returns on investment cannot be maintained, the increase will be larger.  This creates an unconscionable burden on Pennsylvania taxpayers to maintain pensions for state employees which they themselves cannot afford.  The Commonwealth Foundation projects tax increases of $1,360 annually, per household from these adjustments.
  • Pensions for our legislators are even more egregious, especially considering the fact that  Article II, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution forbids any form of compensation for legislators, other than salary and mileage.
  • The present system is not even fair to it’s participants.  If a state worker decides to leave his job before retirement age, he gets back only what he has contributed. The plan keeps all the interest on his contributions, unlike 401-K plans and other defined-contribution plans, where contributions are invested in the employees’ name from day one.  This often creates a situation where government employees feel shackled to an unrewarding job while they wait for the day they can start collecting their pension.
  • By contrast, a defined-contribution plan creates a portable nest egg that a worker can own and take with him to another job without sacrificing his employment freedom.
  • So, it is becoming clear that our current system of defined-benefit pensions for government employees is not fair to taxpayers, nor to the workers themselves.  For that reason, we offer the following resolution for your approval:

Whereas:

The current defined-benefit system of pensions for Pennsylvania legislators, teachers, and state employees is financially unsound and unsustainable, and requires unreasonable sacrifices from Pennsylvania taxpayers to meet its obligations; and

The current system is struggling to provide pension benefits which the average taxpayer cannot himself afford, and;

Article I, Section 2 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides Pennsylvanians with  “ .  .  .  an inalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish their government in such manner as they may think proper.”

Now Therefore, Be It Resolved:

 

The Berks County Patriots support legislation establishing a unified, defined-contribution pension plan similar to those found in the private sector, for all new state and local government employees, while grandfathering current annuitants as well as those scheduled to retire shortly.

Further, that this resolution be forwarded to all members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and other Pennsylvania tea parties.

Berks County Patriots, 1,000 plus members

 

James Billman, Chairman

 

 

Rodney E. Miller, Legislative Research Chairman

© Berks County Patriots 2011

Berks County Patriots

Resolution 4212011-3

 School Property Taxes

School Tax History:

Act 481 1947 The Home Rule Act Passed (Emergency measure to be temporary)

Act 511 1965 Also Known as the Tax everything Act made the school tax permanent.

Act 1 2006 Property Tax Relief (Known as the Gaming Revenue Bill)

 

Background for Resolution:

It has been made clear that Pennsylvania voters favor a bill eliminating the profiled school property tax for all property owners and replacing it with an expanded sales tax. Such a tax would incorporate cost controls to curtail the insatiable appetite of school boards for increased spending, budgets, and taxes, and is the only acceptable solution to this serious problem. (Reference: Quinnipiac poll 89% of PA Voters consider property tax reform urgent.)

It is no longer acceptable for Pennsylvania citizens to lose their homes and family farms due to their inability to pay this unconstitutional, profiled tax. (Reference: Allegheny Court Ruling: Base year property tax assessments Unconstitutional)

The 2009 School Property Tax Elimination Act that was introduced by Representative Sam Rohrer provided safeguards on both spending and taxing, while eliminating the school property tax for all property owners and changed the sales tax to a fair tax for all of the citizens of Pennsylvania. (Reference: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Revised June 2003.)

Articles of verification from the Pennsylvania Constitution:

Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1, Section 20

The citizens have a right in a peaceable manner to assemble together for their common good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes by petition, address or remonstrance.

Pennsylvania Constitution Article 1, Section 1.

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.

Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1, Section 13

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel punishments inflicted.

Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 1, Section 26

Neither the Commonwealth nor any political subdivision thereof shall deny to any person the enjoyment of any civil right, nor discriminate against any person in the exercise of any civil right.

Pennsylvania Constitution, Article 8, Section 1

All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws.

Verifying Quote from our Founding Fathers:

John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If Thou shalt not covet’ and `Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free. “

 

Resolution

 

WHEREAS, property tax, as the primary source of revenue for financing public education, was never constitutional or fair-based, this profiled tax must be eliminated immediately. (2009 PA Reference 2009 PA US Census Bureau): and

WHEREAS, at this time in history, over 300,000 homes are vacant in Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh Tribune 9/27/2010) and the staggering foreclosures in 2010 were a result of profiled taxes directed at Legal American Citizens; and

WHEREAS, delays in adopting  property tax elimination for both commercial and residential property is a major cause for foreclosures during the current economic crisis, this severely impacts Pennsylvania’s competitiveness when compared to neighboring states.

NOW THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Berks County Patriots join with many taxpayer groups across the Commonwealth, and urge the Legislature to repeal Act 1 and replace it with a Constitutional property tax bill that provides all of Pennsylvania’s property owners with total elimination of the existing school property tax. This replacement bill must be premised upon an expanded sales tax base and possible increased personal income tax while, also providing safeguards against uncontrolled spending and any later implementation of real estate based taxation for education purposes.

Further resolved, that this Resolution be forwarded to all members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate.

Berks County Patriots, 1,000 plus members

 

James Billman, Chairman

 

 

Rodney E. Miller, Legislative Research Chairman

Pennsylvania Constitution Article 1, Section 25.

To guard against the transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.

Verifying Quotes from our Founding Fathers:

John Adams quote:

Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.

Thomas Jefferson quote:

To compel a man to subsidize, with his taxes, the propagation of ideas, which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.

© Berks County Patriots 2011


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