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Consumer Advocate Says Governor's Sales Tax Plan Could Make Things Worse

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wants to expand the sales tax to include a list of items that aren't taxed now.

He would like to increase sales taxes and personal income taxes, but decrease corporate income taxes and property taxes for homeowners.

The result, he says, is a way to boost funding for public schools.

But the list of items that would be taxed under the proposal is surprising and frustrating to consumer advocate Mary Bach of Murrysville.

She says it wouldn't fix the state's quirky sales tax rules. In fact, she believes it would make things worse.

Under the plan, you'd start paying state sales tax on cable television. There would also be tax on college textbooks and college meal plans.

Bach points out that items she considers necessities would be taxed under the plan.

"Under the new plan, toilet tissue will now be taxed at a rate of 6.6 cents on the dollar," she says.

Tickets to spectator sports, such as the Steelers or Pirates, would fall under the state sales tax. So would newspapers, candy, gum, toothpaste, toothbrushes, aspirin, vitamins, even diapers.

"Disposable diapers can already be fairly pricey, particularly when a baby is using eight or 10 or more a day," said Bach.

Garbage collection would be taxed. So would caskets and tombstones, and also daycare.

But the governor says in exchange, there would be relief from property taxes.

"We need to change the way we fund public education and remove the heavy burden that property tax owners bear in funding education. That's unfair to them, and it's unfair to our kids," said Gov. Wolf.

But Bach believes it doesn't add up and could hurt some young couples and the elderly.

"Right now, we are being sold another bill of goods I think about property tax relief," said Bach.

The proposal is just that right now - a proposal. It's unclear what may happen in Harrisburg.

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