Reposted from Philly.com:
It might be a wake-up call to anyone expecting a smooth path to a final state budget.
Senate Republicans plan to vote next week on a proposal to eliminate property taxes as a source of school revenue and replace them with hikes in the sales and personal income taxes. And the bill’s key sponsor says he has support from both parties.
“You don’t reform property taxes,” Sen. David Argall (R., Berks) said Wednesday. “The only solution is to eliminate them.”
Even if his measure fails, its emergence could signal cracks in the tentative $30 billion budget deal Gov. Wolf and Republican legislative leaders touted last week. Neither side has offered details, but both said the plan they hope to finalize by early next month will include a 1.25 percent increase in the state sales tax, changes to the liquor and pension systems, and a reduction in property taxes.
But all that does nothing, Argall and others say, to stop school boards from raising taxes in future years.For him and his 21 cosponsors, including seven Democrats, the issue is not so much about passing a budget, but permanently changing how Pennsylvania funds its schools. They say the current system, based on sometimes outdated and illogical assessments, is a relic.
“It’s based on, how big is your house? When did you buy it? How big is your lot? Did you remember to paint your door last year? I mean, that’s crazy,” Argall said.
Wolf’s office declined to comment on the bill, saying only that it was not part of the framework agreed upon with Republican leaders.
Property taxes generate about $12 billion for public schools statewide each a year. The bill would generate the same funding, supporters say, by increasing the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, expanding the number of taxable items, and hiking the income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent.
Underscoring the bipartisan nature of the bill is Sen. Lisa Boscola (D., Northampton), who believes the current dependence on property taxes places the school-funding burden on too few people.
“When you go to a sales tax [funding stream], you get more people paying into the system,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R., Centre) has not said how he may vote, in part because he doesn’t want to sway undecided legislators, spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said.
She said a vote before Thanksgiving was expected, partly because GOP caucus members “have been asking for it for some time.” … Continue reading →
Tim’s Thoughts on SB 76
I have written about the Property Tax Independence Act many times over the years, but you may want to also read PA HB/SB 76: Octorara vs ‘Property Tax Independence Act’.
Why do I support SB 76?
- School taxes will no longer be placed on the shoulders of the few.
- The amount paid in school taxes will more reflect what a person can afford.
- Those who earn more pay more.
- Those who consume more will pay more.
- School taxes will no longer force people from their homes..
- The grandmother who purchased her home 40 years ago, and now is paying more in taxes than her whole original mortgage, no longer has to choose between paying taxes or buying food and medicine.
- More young families will be able to afford buying their first home,School property taxes will no longer be a factor in calculating a monthly mortgage payment.
- There will no longer be a tax shift from farmers to other property owners.
- School boards will be forced to become more prudent with spending.
The Property Tax Independence Act is not a great solution, but it is the best solution that anyone has been able to come up with. The whole reason this is even being considered is because many school boards, across Pennsylvania, have been shown to be irresponsible with spending… and I think we can all cite examples of Octorara doing the same.
If this passes, we all need to send John McCartney, a former Octorara Area School Board Director, a note of appreciation. McCartney has worked for years with Chester Lancaster Anti-School Tax Assoc. (CLASTA) and Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Assoc. (PCTA).