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Senate committee builds support to end school property taxes

Published August 21. 2013 05:04PM

HARRISBURG The chairmen of the Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee are working to build bipartisan support for a bill that would eliminate school property taxes.

Sen. David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill) and Senator Jim Brewster (D-Allegheny) chair the committee with oversight of issues impacting housing across the state.

"We heard plenty of individuals testify about the need for local tax reform during our hearings on the future of cities," Brewster said. "Building a bipartisan coalition of legislators proves this is not a Democrat or Republican issue; this is a taxpayer's issue."

Brewster sees school tax elimination as a solution for homeowners who struggle to make ends meet and an opportunity to improve urban communities.

"We have been making tremendous strides toward building legislative support from every corner of the state, including the southwest," Argall said.

Argall introduced similar legislation last session that gained 13 co-sponsors out of the 50-member Senate.

This year, Argall points to the addition of nine Senate co-sponsors; bringing the total co-sponsors to 22, including 10 Democrats. Argall credits the grassroots activists, along with Democrat and Republican elected officials working in a bipartisan manner.

Senate Bill 76 and its House companion, House Bill 76, were developed by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Association, a statewide grassroots taxpayer organization with over 80 chapters.

Argall and Brewster will soon release with the House Urban Affairs Committee, a committee report detailing the findings from their hearings on the future of cities, large and small.

The joint committee report will highlight suggestions offered by testifiers at the three hearings in Pittsburgh, York and Reading held at the beginning of summer. Some suggested school tax reform as an option to fix budget woes cities are currently facing.

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