Ryan’s plan needs to be deep-sixed

State Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, does not advocate taxing retirees’ Social Security benefits to help boost Pennsylvania’s coffers.

However, he is wrong in advocating that those former workers, who paid taxes that helped keep the state government afloat throughout their employment years, should do so again through taxing of any other retiree benefits that they are collecting.

Ryan is planning to launch a statewide tour that he hopes will build senior citizens’ support for the plan. Would it really be a surprise if no one shows up?

Or, more realistically, at each of Ryan’s stops, including Blair County, if he decides to venture here, seniors should pack whatever meeting venue is used to let it be known that he should quickly deep-six his idea and pray that his constituents don’t express their opinions by helping to defeat him next year if he seeks re-election.

His proposed House Bill 13 has the potential to be a very unlucky number for him.

The idea behind Ryan’s initiative is to eliminate the school property tax. It is an idea that has surfaced in the past but never got anywhere, because of the complexities tied to a revision.

One impediment has been that past plans usually have left a window open for reinstituting the school property tax if serious financial problems dictated.

Even if the school property tax wouldn’t come back, property owners still will receive their real estate tax bills for county and municipal taxes.

As tempting as property-tax elimination might seem to be, the proverbial can of worms would be lurking close by, waiting for the opportunity for a school property tax rebirth.

Ryan’s current goal apparently is not to increase the tax load on those currently working — people who generally aren’t burdened with the fixed-income challenges of retirees. Fixed incomes or not, Ryan wants to focus his money grab on retired people, many of whom already are having difficulty deciding whether to buy food or medicines.

If Ryan is so concerned about the state’s finances, he should be delving into state historical records, especially one involving a small, temporary income tax hike that would be guaranteed to end when the temporary additional levy’s expiration date arrived.

The problem with Pennsylvania is that there’s not enough bipartisan, constructive dialogue for problem-solving, fiscal or otherwise. That provides an opening for poorly thought-out plans that never should end up on paper — like Ryan’s — but which so often do.

It is to be hoped that Blair County’s state lawmakers and most others across the commonwealth won’t be duped into jumping aboard Ryan’s rickety money “vehicle” that probably doesn’t have any realistic chance of achieving all that Ryan hopes to achieve.

Ryan admitted on Aug. 20 that “this is not going to be an easy sell,” despite expressing the view that a tax on retirement income is inevitable because of the Keystone State’s intertwined demographic and fiscal situation.

But it is not going to happen in 2019 or 2020 or anytime soon beyond that, and Blair seniors should be vocal in asserting that message.

New ideas always should be welcomed. However, bad ones, like this one from Ryan, should be discarded without hesitation, and certainly without a useless statewide tour to cement that message.


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