The recently proposed White Amendment, which would have given Pennsylvania’s taxpayers a small, capped, one-time tax credit for adopting a shelter pet, fell short of passage by one vote. In a House with a sizable Republican majority, this is actually remarkable since the amendment, proposed by a Democrat, would need not only his party’s vote, but Republican support, too.
The White Amendment managed to get that cross-aisle support, which included the support of John Maher, Republican candidate for Auditor General and hardly an economic liberal. Among others, it also got the support of Mike Tobash, unapologetic supporter of pigeon shoots and hardly a bleeding heart animal activist. Apparently these two diverse Republicans recognized something that the majority of their colleagues did not: The White Amendment wasn’t just about dogs and cats. It was also about the economy!
Tax credits are created for a reason. They are intended to incentivize something which is good for the community. In this case the shallowest of views might have been that this was just about the 25,000 adopters who would have been eligible to receive this tax credit if they adopted a shelter pet. As an animal welfare advocate, that’s a good enough reason for me. But I can see how some might not think that’s enough of a reason to modify tax policy.
But I’m also the CEO of a non-profit corporation which employs over 30 Pennsylvania tax payers. That part of me is mad as hell this didn’t pass because a less shallow view would have seen that the White Amendment was really about jobs and economic development. It was about the economy, stupid! While some of our elected officials run around pandering to us about the need for a tax policy which supports business and how we need to support manufacturing, gas drilling, millionaire job creators, and the like, they seem to have forgotten that the single biggest employment sector in Pennsylvania is the one animal shelters belong to: the non-profit sector.
One in eight Pennsylvania jobs is provided by the non-profit sector, the largest of any other sector of the employment market. It’s one in eight when you take away the second largest employer, government. That’s more employees with quality jobs than any of the other sectors which our officials want to tout as being so “vital” to our economy. That’s more tax payers who support our government and economy. And the money spent in these non-profit businesses stays right here in Pennsylvania rather than being funneled to parent corporations in other states or even other nations.
I’m not saying these officials shouldn’t support other industries, too; in fact we all need to be successful if any of us are to be truly successful. However, many of the Representatives who voted against the White Amendment seems to have forgotten, if they ever knew, that it is organizations like ours which are the true job creators in Pennsylvania. We deserve the economic boost this amendment would have delivered and it would have made a very real difference to our employees and their families and to the overall economy.
The majority of the Representatives who voted against this Amendment don’t seem to have a problem with voting for tax credits for millionaires in the name of “job creation”. Nearly all supported the years’ long tax holiday given to natural gas drillers and the eventual passage of one of the lowest severance taxes in the nation, all in the name of economic development. I don’t fault them for doing that if they really thought it was the right thing to do. I do fault their inconsistency, however, when they choose to reward millionaires and Texas energy companies but vote against a tiny tax credit which would have benefited pets, Pennsylvania tax payers, and employers like HSBC.
So, if they don’t have a problem with tax credits, I can’t help but wonder why they seem to have a problem with Pennsylvania’s real job creators, its average tax payers, and our dogs? Maybe they should consider taking another bite out of this apple and passing the White Amendment.