The Declaration of Independence turned 239 years old yesterday. One of the primary reasons was forced taxation (without representation) on items such as sugar, paper, glass, paint and tea. The colonists rebelled and eventually fought to gain their own country.

Fast forward to 2015 and tax increases have become an established way of life.

In June, the Post Gazette reported the following from a school district survey in which 71% that responded said they would raise taxes. “Additionally, 41 percent indicated they plan to cut staff by eliminating positions, furloughing employees or instituting a hiring freeze, and 23 percent plan to cut programs.”

The Tribune Review reported on July 1st that “Statewide, districts’ state-mandated pension obligations to the Public School Employees Retirement System, or PSERS, will have soared nearly 60 percent between 2013-14 and the coming school year — from $1.8 billion to $2.9 billion.” Read more .

The challenges faced in Pennsylvania are not unique. Politics impede common sense. One party’s apples is another party’s oranges. There is divisiveness, environmental concerns, existing shortfalls and we’ve passed the deadline for passing a budget.

The focus needs to switch from ‘winners and losers’ to what makes sense and what is needed to fortify the existing foundation and build a simple, fair and sustainable future for the Commonwealth.

Bottom line: If the best we can do is concede to continued, automatic tax increases, the birthdays will soon take on a different meaning and what we wish for when blowing out the candles will be to have a second chance on yesterday.

Mark Schuster