Who holds the power in Pa.?

Did you know that Pennsylvania does not provide for citizen initiatives or referendums?

Therefore, all statewide ballot measures are referred by the General Assembly.

The General Assembly or state Legislature may send a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration if it receives a majority vote of state legislators in each chamber over two successive legislative sessions.

If the General Assembly declares that a “major emergency threatens or is about to threaten the Commonwealth,” then a constitutional amendment may be referred by a two-thirds vote of legislators in each chamber during one legislative session.

That’s it.

Unlike in many other states, Pennsylvanians cannot directly petition for initiatives or referendums.

Who really has the power in Pennsylvania?

So beware of and get educated about referendums the Legislature places on the election ballot.

This includes this Tuesday’s referendum on property taxes. Yes, citizens going into voting booth Tuesday will find what many will surely consider a pleasant surprise. They will be asked to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to do away with local property taxes. That’s not precisely the wording on the ballot — it talks about raising the homestead exclusion on properties from 50 percent to 100 percent — but that is its effect.

So, we’re sure most people will have a near uncontrollable urge to press the “yes” button.

Who likes to pay property taxes?

But consider the reality behind this question.

Property taxes are used to fund our public schools, our prisons, our courts, our social services and more.

Property taxes cannot be abolished without replacing that money.

There are bills in the state Legislature to increase the state income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent to partly fill in the hole. (Yes, another deduction from your paycheck).

Another plan would increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent (or from 8 percent to 9 percent in Philadelphia) and remove exemptions on such items as food, non-prescription drugs, and some clothing.

Depending on your income and current property taxes, you could end up paying more.

Don’t allow the Legislature to throw our schools, courts and social services into even more disarray.

Vote “no” on the ballot question.