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Philly's Choice: Fund needed programs with Gatorade or land values?
Pittsburgh: The disappearing Black community and land value
To Where will the Sugary Drinks Spill?
Day In, Day Out: an UrbanTools Diary by CSE
Can Connecticut Regain Traction?

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Noted UK Think Tank: Tax Land Values
Eliminating the property tax? It must not happen, but we’ll see what happens.
Altoona, PA: City tax wholly on land values = normality
Dr. Herbert Barry's Proposal to Really Reassess Allegheny County
Land Value Tax in Britain: Progress While the Rear Guard Digs In

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Incentive Taxation

Philly's Choice: Fund needed programs with Gatorade or land values?











As always, the answer is in the numbers...



It's nowadays accepted that beverages with added sugar are bad. New York City a few years ago had it's own psychodrama on Big Gulps and Frappuccinos, when the unlikely nanny state of Michael Bloomberg tried to impose a tax on sugary drinks as a public health measure. It was eventually defeated in court, but the idea is still very popular by those who have no problem telling other people what to put into their mouths.

Certainly, soda probably not the best thing one could drink.

Pittsburgh: The disappearing Black community and land value














Homewood: A Storied History


In the middle of all the nonstop happy talk about the revitalizing urbanification of older Rust Belt cities likeBuffalo, Cleveland and our old friend Pittsburgh,UrbanTools notes that the benefit falls on a very narrow slice of the body politic: the development "community" and other hustlers who ask that government pays for their slick new condos and apartments for transient Millennials.  Meanwhile, all of these cities are losing population and unemployment rates are still high.

To Where will the Sugary Drinks Spill?


Philadelphia. A great city strategically placed on the East Coast halfway between New York City and Washington DC. 

Yet, it's fiscal crisis has been a fact of life for decades, with no end in sight. Philadelphia is a great paradox, and explaining why takes patience and the willingness to question great assumptions.






Philadelphia. Of the 10 largest cities in the United States, it is the poorest. It has problems such as crumbling infrastructure, ballooning expenses, and struggling schools and neighborhoods.

Day In, Day Out: an UrbanTools Diary by CSE


We are happy to present a new integrated diary/blog brought to you by the Center for the Study of Economics, using our street name “UrbanTools.”  That’s where we spend most of our time: traveling, meeting with communities, doing outreach, performing research and overall presenting an alternative way of looking at political economy in the real world.


The best place to start? Most likely CSE’s annual meeting of the Board of Directors[i] on November 19, 2015. With attendees in person at our physical HQ at the friends service Center at 1501 Cherry St.

Can Connecticut Regain Traction?





















In living memory, Connecticut was the Gold Standard for how a state could be run for all the people from poor to middle class to wealthy.  Starting in 1991 with the advent of state income tax, and increased business taxation, Connecticut started a barely noticeable decline that hasaccelerated dramaticallyin recent years.  

Forbes magazine is just the latest harbinger of “for whom the Bell tolls” bad business environment rankings for Connecticut.  Both sides of the aisle are just now starting to realize that growth that does not involve private investment and personal work is not real growth, it’s a debt or an obligation put off for later.

Adam Smith institute Joins Adam Smith in Supporting LVT



As ferment increases in the UK in 2015 over the lack of affordable housing, massive land speculation and the difficulty of native High Street businesses to pay their rates, we are pleased to see that the Adam Smith Institute understands that, like their namesake,land value taxation may be the way forward out of a fiendishly complicated local tax system that discriminates between residents and business, and rewards vacancy and blight.


As the author of the Wealth of Nations stated nicely, from The Wealth of Nations (Book 5, Chapter 2) he nicely stated:

The US Environmental Protection Agency Recommends LVT in new publication



UrbanTools is pleased to see that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recommending exploration of land value taxationfor distressed and struggling communities, the number of which are increasing exponentially even after the supposed end of the Great Recession. 

Titled “Attracting Infill Development in Distressed Communities: 30 Strategies” and published by the Office of Sustainable Communities Smart Growth Program, the document describes how land value tax works and highlights the fact that Pennsylvania is the leader in the effort (we note modestly).

Land value tax back on front burner: Lancaster Pennsylvania

Revisiting the land value tax in Lancaster


For some years, the visionary Mayor ofLancasterPennsylvaniaRick Gray has worked tirelessly with his team to return one of the oldest and most distinguished of American cities to its rightful place as a muscular economic and cultural hub of Lancaster County and Amish country.

Mayor Rick Gray: I've got an Idea.

Mayor Gray has also been a firm advocate of land value tax, yet peculiar valuations imposed on the city by Lancaster County have been a political barrier.

Frederick Maryland: Finding a Cure for Blight

















Downtown Frederick Maryland: No More Lights Out?





Frederick Magazinehas been around 30 years, covering that beautiful old city in Maryland and the surrounding countryside. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the travel tips, restaurant coverage, and its beautiful visual explorations to visit, live, and work.

The magazine also covers the not so pleasant realities that any city of any size must deal with. People may be surprised that such a lovely city near the center of national wealth in Washington DC also suffers from commercial and residential blight.

A national solution for local government finances?


Doctor Herbert Barry, professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, is always looking for a better way. Joining thinkers like Joseph Stiglitz and James Galbraith, here is a recent submission by Doctor Barry into the marketplace of ideas, from the Pittsburgh post-Gazette:














Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Friday, March 27, 2015

 Unimproved land tax
 
     A   March 19 article described a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to increase revenues for the Pennsylvania government to support early education (“Wolf: Billions in Revenue From Proposed Sales Tax”).

Quick movement on LVT Extension Legislation in Connecticut



On February 4, 2015 , just a few days into the Connecticut legislature's 2015 session, the Land Value Tax expansion bill was accepted for action and testimony by a unanimous bipartisan vote of the joint Planning and Development Committee voted in favor this time. This is particularly quick considering past practice.

UrbanTools in action and on the road

With the 2015 Legislative Session open, Connecticut faces a structural fiscal deficit of nearly $175 million, under-performing tax receipts, crumbling infrastructure, and declining aid to municipalities.

The remedy is just as Henry George prescribed. CSE has been on the ground working to supply the research and analysis to motivate Legislative action.

Outcomes: 

Butt Out: Philadelphia’s cigarette tax will fail and make the city more fragile.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania even after decades of heavy lifting by the taxpayers is still lurching from crisis to crisis, with the root cause based in fiscal uncertainty.  Philadelphia and its nearly insolvent school district still has not discovered a true “fit for purpose” revenue source that will provided - at the very least - revenue stability.  Poor, working and middle-class people pay a larger share of their incomes on tax than in nearly any other American city.  Turning to those who can least afford to pay ought to be the last choice, but ironically in Philadelphia it’s nearly always the first choice.

Land Value Tax featured in the Financial Times

Altoona's Future Includes a land value based policy.


The September 24, 2014 edition of the Financial Times features an article on a subject not often covered by the mainstream media: land value taxation.  Interest in LVT has been highlighted in the past several years in the UK by such respected columnists as Martin Wolf.

Now the US edition of the FT has weighed in with an article entitled"Land of Opportunity" by Robin Harding, a well-respected economics writer and editor.

The article concentrates on one of the cities that implements a version of land value taxation:

More evidence confirms the error of stopping land value tax in Pittsburgh

Q. What happens when a city taxes buildings more at the beginning of the greatest building boom in American history?
A. Not much.


One of the best examples of the efficacy of land value tax (LVT) was careful study of the city of Pittsburgh culminating in theOates/Schwab study of Pittsburgh published in 1997which concluded all things being equal land value tax policy had the effect of unleashing construction demand – especially downtown construction –just as the steel industry collapsed, and just as the US entered a significant recessionary period (late 1970s and early 1980s)