Senators introduce plan to eliminate school property taxes in PA

HARRISBURG – A bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers have joined together to introduce a plan drafted by over 80 grassroots taxpayer groups from across the state to eliminate school property taxes for the state’s 500 public school districts, according to Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks).

Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, would replace the revenue generated by the property tax for public schools with an increase to the Personal Income Tax rate from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent and an increase in the Sales and Use Tax from 6 to 7 percent. The tax would also be expanded to cover more goods and services that are currently exempt.

The bill has attracted eight prime sponsors and 12 additional cosponsors in the Senate so far. The bill’s eight prime sponsors – four Republicans and four Democrats – believe it’s long overdue to enact this much-needed reform.

Argall and Senators Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon/Dauphin/York), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon), Mario Scavello (R-Monroe/Northampton), Scott Wagner (R-York), Lisa Boscola (D-Lehigh/Northampton) and Andy Dinniman (D-Chester) issued the following statement voicing their support of the bill:

“School property taxes are by far the fastest-rising tax in Pennsylvania and the largest concern from the residents we represent across the state. Efforts to reform the archaic tax in the past, while well-intentioned, have fallen short of the expectations of taxpayers. This plan is unlike any other piece of legislation as it was drafted by hardworking men and women across this state dedicated to the eradication of the 1834 model of funding our public schools. Clearly the time has come to eliminate school property taxes and in this age of partisanship, this is an issue that crosses party lines since it affects every property owner of this state.”

David Baldinger, leader of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Association – the group of citizen activists pushing the legislation – said this is the people’s bill.

“For too long, we’ve been overpromised school property tax relief. Thanks to the hard work of many concerned residents across this state, we have a bill that paves the way towards the total elimination – not partial reduction – of school property taxes across the state. This was drafted by volunteers, not lobbyists or special interests, to look out for the best interest of property owners. We’ve said all along: no tax shall have the power to leave you homeless. This is our solution – the people’s solution – and we look forward to a robust debate in the legislature on this critical issue.”

Senate Bill 76 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

The issue was last voted on November 23, 2015, when it was defeated on a 24-24 tie vote. The Lieutenant Governor then broke the tie, voting no, making the final tally 24 votes for, with 25 votes against. 

Christine Verdier (Argall)

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