Is Property Tax Reform Finally Here?
Remember how Fast Eddie promised property tax relief if we legalized gambling? Remember the promise of referenda for property tax increases? Remember how all of that was a big fat lie? Yeah, so do I.
Fortunately, the grown-ups are in charge of the state government now, and we actually have a shot at real meaningful property tax reform in the form of HB 1776 and its companion bill SB 1400 which were introduced in the Assembly today. These bills are the brainchildren of Dave Baldinger and his Pennsylvania Taxpayer’s Cyber-Coalition. Long story short: HB 1776 would eliminate the use of property taxes to fund public education. It also gets rid of the local earned income tax (usually 1%), the mercantile tax, and the billion other “nuisance taxes” in the Commonwealth. The state income tax goes from 3.07% to 4% and the state sales tax goes to 7% and the number of things taxed is broadened. School districts get funding at their current per-pupil level with adjustments based on inflation and the number of kids in school.
This is one of those issues that I hope transcends partisan politics. Property taxes are killing Republicans and Democrats alike all over the state. I’m sure the demagoguery will begin any moment now with the teachers unions and their lackeys whining the loudest, but the fact remains that our property tax system is both a poor way to fund education and is fundamentally unfair to taxpayers.
I give a lot of credit to the people who worked to make this happen. Dave Baldinger of the PTCC has dedicated untold amounts of time to this worthy and sometimes seemingly lost cause. Representatives Jim Cox (R-Berks), Rick Saccone (R-Allegheny-where-property-taxes-suck-I-know-because-I-pay-them), Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks) and Senator David Argall (R-Schuykill) have done the heavy political lifting to get this to the floor. Real property tax reform was unthinkable two years ago, and now it is close to being reality. Call your reps and senators and get them supporting these bills!