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CPBJ Extra Blog

Is there a double standard here?

Brent Burkey
Brent Burkey

Not long ago, I wrote about a western Pennsylvania House Democrat who wanted the state Treasurer to halt payment of more than $1.7 million to a commonwealth Web portal vendor.

Turns out, Rob McCord obliged, according to the lawmaker's office. But that's a political tangent for another day.

Anyway, the reason state Rep. Rob Matzie requested the halting is that he says Gov. Tom Corbett's administration indicated the deal was supposed to come with no costs, and $1.7 million is more than zero.

Good point. So, yes, hit the brakes until someone can sort out whether this could be an unfair shortchanging of state taxpayers for the benefit of one private business, I said.

The governor's office, for its part, said this is upfront money to kick-start improvements to state Web portals. However, it was unknown at the time whether the commonwealth would recoup the dollars.

But, remember what I said about potentially unfair shortchanging of taxpayers? And I'm counting your business and thousands like it within the definition of taxpayer.

That's all key to this next part.

So now, Matzie has turned his attention to something else.

He's upset by a decision by the state Department of Revenue that a business in his district does not qualify as a manufacturer under the Tax Reform Code, according to a news release from his office.

As a result, he has announced legislation to add actions such as crushing, milling and sizing of fused aluminum to the definition of processing as an amendment to code.

This would allow companies doing these things — such as, say, U.S. Electrofused Minerals Inc. in his district — to avoid sales tax on buying stuff ranging from equipment and electricity.

Now, to me those unpaid taxes make a hole in state coffers the same as money getting spent and going out the door.

Anyone else getting a whiff of a double standard floating around here?

Brent Burkey covers retail, tourism, and Lebanon and York counties. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at You can also follow him on Twitter, @brentburkey.

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