School property tax reform is a real possibility

The Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition (PTCC) has been promoting property tax reform for years, and it looks as though Pennsylvania is on the verge of real reform this legislative session, with current legislation pending in both the state House and Senate, designated HB 76 and SB 76, respectively: the Property Tax Independence Act.

As of late August the total number of co-sponsors for HB 76 had climbed to 91, and for SB 76, 23. Since 102 votes are needed for passage in the House, and 26 in the Senate, one can clearly see that proponents of school property tax elimination are closer than ever to achieving what they characterize as an extremely important goal of shifting the burden of school taxation from the limited number of homeowners and property owners, to an unlimited—by comparison—number of consumers.

David Baldinger of the PTCC stated that once the bill passes, people on fixed or limited incomes will no longer struggle with a tax they cannot afford, sometimes choosing between their medicines and housing, since those who consume more will pay more than those who consume less, making this method of taxation both a stable source of revenue as well as a fair one.

“We are the first to admit that the bill is not perfect; however, it does offer a much needed solution to how our school districts receive their funding, while at the same time maintaining local control,” stated Baldinger.

According to members of the PTCC, quite a bit of misinformation is circulating regard the bill, such as the claim that the legislation is not, in fact, “revenue neutral” and will create shortfalls for school districts. Another charge leveled by critics of the bill is that local school boards will forfeit the ability to make decisions tailored for their area. The cyber coalition adamantly disagrees, and urges folks to do their own research into the measure’s specifics.

Scranton area State Representative Kevin Haggerty has proposed an amendment that will essentially overfund the bill, providing for a surplus fund to be used as a cushion and contingency should trouble arise.

“I want this to work as much as anyone, but never at the expense of our children’s education,” said Haggerty.

Baldinger claimed that projection models show the bill to be adequately funded—if not overfunded—and said, “We welcome Representative Haggerty’s efforts and support.”

Baldinger ends every PTCC presentation by bellowing the catch phrase, “NO TAX SHOULD HAVE THE POWER TO LEAVE YOU HOMELESS!”

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