The Incidence of the Easton Commuter Tax

John Stoffa opposed the Easton commuter tax because he said it would deal him a bad hand in negotiations with public sector unions over pay raises next year.

If the County ends up increasing workers’ pay to cover the cost of living increase, the true incidence of the tax increase on County workers would fall on Northampton County taxpayers.

As someone who likes progressive taxation, that seems like a clear win to me. The median Northampton County taxpayer is wealthier than the median Easton taxpayer. It’s a progressive redistribution.


  1. Or the county could just let the union workers take it in the nuts since the money is being funneled to other union workers.

    Wonder how Easton’s growth will suffer, new business relocations and all? And please don’t give me the “Millenials want to live in the city so jobs must be there” speech. I don’t know a single business owner who gives a rats ass about what Millenials want, and locating in downtown Easton or Palmer township dosen’t matter, you can still make Happy Hour on time from Palmer.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Easton’s growth isn’t going to suffer. All workers will now be paying the same EIT rate. It will just cost a little more now for Easton workers to not live in Easton. Seems just as likely that more workers will move to Easton to avoid the extra tax than businesses will move out of Easton. The transaction cost to individuals to relocate is lower than the cost for a business.

      Millenials do want to live and work downtown. The ugly office parks your generation built are viewed as laughably uncool. You must know some really stupid business owners.

  2. Yeah, stupid enough to work ungodly hours, build very successful businesses over decades, employ thousands of people in a good work environment, pay their taxes in full and on time, put their kids through college, support local charities with their time and money, etc.

    Boy just stupid stupid people.

    Maybe they should have done what your generation does – go to overprice colleges and get worthless degrees, sponge off parents and government, have no concept of what hard work is, think you’re worth a hell of alot more than you actually are, got trophies for 7th place in the soccer league your mom made you play in, think being good at an online game is a job skill, etc.

    And since you missed the point, let me reiterate – I’m a new business. I have a choice on where I locate. Do I locate in Easton, where the costs to my employees are higher than they are at other locations? Following your logic, I have to ask as well whether Easton’s labor pool big enough to support my needs? It isn’t by the way.

    And Jon, honest to God the last thing any business wants is a bunch of Millenials! I’m not kidding, not being a smart ass. Your generation doesn’t have the skills or the drive I need for my business to succeed.

    It’s one of the biggest problems we as a country face.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Stupid enough not to recognize important economic and cultural shifts.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Anyway, I disagree, but even if that were true, which generation’s fault would it be that our educational institutions are subpar? And whose responsibility is it to clean up the mess? Y’all better figure out some way to employ us, or there’s not going to be anybody to buy yr shit. We’re the biggest generation ever – way too big for your generation to let us fail. That means full employment policies from the Fed and Congress and student loan bankruptcy reform.

      • You just made my point – your response is “what are we going to do for you?’ instead of focusing on what you can do for yourself.

        You really do feel that entitled, that nothing is your responsibility?

        Jeez my generation did a really lousy job raising your generation. We’ve raised a generation of self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-focused, spoiled, immature, unmotivated little assholes.

        From Northand College President John Tapene:

        ‘Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun.

        ‘The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important, you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you!’ “

        • Jon Geeting says:

          There’s no excuse for Congress and the Fed not to be pursuing full employment policies right now. That’s not asking for a handout, that’s asking them to do their damn jobs. And it’s not like there’s no harm to the borrower in bankruptcy. Your credit’s ruined for a long time. Which is fair. Having your creditors garnish your fucking Social Security checks until the day you die is not fair.

          • You’re right on what Congress and the Fed should have in terms of targets, we disagree on how to get there.

            But none of that disavows you of YOUR responsibility to do what YOU can to make YOUR life better.

            Stop sitting on your ass and do something positive to make this a better country. Blogging and working for a convicted criminal (hope you got an invitation to the wedding), volunteer for a charity or a soup kitchen, or a sports league. Help your parents around the house.

            In other words, don’t be a hipster asshole.

  3. Jon,

    If I remember the Mayor right, this tax isn’t very “redistributive” at all. It is designed to help Easton pay its obscene long-term pension bill. So if anything, it takes money from slightly wealthier NORCO taxpayers and gives it to the best paid civic workers. Or maybe it isn’t.

    The thing that is holding Easton, like a lot of other cities, back is its out of whack finances. Crayola is there, and the brewery–so the city can hit them until they are out of business or move. But why would a startup company want to move in when the city is always one idea away from “dealing with its pension problem” at their expense?

    The comment is unintentionally revealing–the city will never deal with its financials so long as the union can demonstrate that it can get consistent pay raises at “someone else’s expense.” That’s not a path to success.

    I’ll stay out of the generational war, other than to say that I’m not even that old but to pay what folks do these days for mediocre schools and degrees like sociology and film studies is truly amazing to me.

    • Jon Geeting says:

      Actually the city’s finances are pretty good. Their bond rating was just upgraded two years ago. It’s the long term pension problem that sucks, but what can they do about it? There’s only two choices – cut benefits or raise taxes, and one of them would be breaking contracts. They can’t do anything about that with the state, and the state really limits municipalities’ options on what they are allowed to do about pensions. The best solution is to grow the pool of payers. Combine the municipal pension funds and regionalize the tax base to pay for them.

  4. The problem isn’t the size of the pension funds. Its 1) the size of the benefits promised and 2) the projections cities and states are allowed to make and the annual contribution that results. The only way you solve this is through defined contribution pensions, so that tomorrow’s costs are paid in current budget years.

    For example, CALPERS, which is the pension fund for a large number of California state employees, has continually projected a 7- 8% growth in its funds long after this became laughable. Last year it turned out to be 1%.

    Now if your remedy doesn’t do anything for a state of nearly 37 million people with consolidated pensions, what’s it going to do for Northampton County?

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