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Senators: It’s time for tax relief

Published August 14. 2019 02:40PM

Two local state senators said Tuesday now is the time for action on property tax reform in Pennsylvania.

Sen. Dave Argall, R-29, and Sen. Mario Scavello, R-40, addressed what remains the most discussed issue in state government during a public workshop at Penn State University’s York campus.

“I can’t go to a gas station or a Cub Scout meeting without hearing about property taxes,” Argall said.

Scavello told several stories of elderly constituents who are all potentially losing their homes due to an inability to pay property taxes.

Maggie, he said, is a 74-year-old woman who lives in and owns the only house she has ever known.

“She grew up there and after her parents died, she now owns the property,” Scavello said. “Within the next three or four months, she is losing that home. Property taxes have gone from $400 to $6,000 for her. “

Scavello also talked of a husband and wife who retired debt-free in 1984, when property taxes were less than $500 a year. With her husband deceased and taxes now over $5,000, he said, she is choosing between food, clothing or the tax bill. She told Scavello, “I’m guilty of living too long.”

“We can’t have too many more of these meetings,” Scavello said. “We need to solve this problem and it needs to be this year. I’ll vote for any one of the plans. We need to at least help seniors if we can’t get something to finish line.”

Tuesday’s panel included school district officials, and representatives from the business and real estate sectors, among other contributors.

Tim Shrom, director of research for the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, warned that total property tax elimination could result in many taxpayers paying more, only in smaller doses.

Relying solely on income or sales taxes, he said, “would be unsustainable.”

Jim Rodkey, who leads the Pennsylvania Property Rights Association, said his group is firmly against property taxes, calling them largely unfair.

“We need to amputate this beast,” Rodkey said. “The band-aid approach has been going on far too long.”

State Rep. Fran Ryan pulled back his plan Tuesday to help eliminate the school property tax by taxing retirement income, saying he first wanted to get the support of seniors.

“I will not vote to tax seniors’ pensions,” Scavello said during the workshop.

Comments
It's time to eliminate the school property tax. It isn't fair, and so it isn't constitutional. As for revenue? Reduce spending on education, money won't ever fix it.
Um, schools have to be funded somehow. The concept of school tax was to locally approve control and fund budgets. If you relinquish control to the state, just be aware you putting the funding 100% in the state's hands. Also be aware there are always winners and losers when adjustments are made. Some pay more, some pay less.
Chestnut...,
Pennsylvania ranks 49th of 50 in School Districts reliance on state funding, the majority of $ comes from property taxes... agree?
The consequence? Many poor rural and urban communities struggle to raise sufficient funds to pay for adequate schools. Ironically, these poor communities are often home to the highest property tax rates in Pennsylvania. To make things fair, increase state portion, or eliminate local taxation all together. Replace the revenue from Property Tax, with increased sales tax. Perhaps you concern, as I do, with loosing control of education? We lost control a long time ago. I see the government schools of PA to now be too big to change. The fairest way, would be to privatize the whole thing, get government out of education all together. Pay your own way. We give it away at everyone's expense. The best way to devalue something, is to give it away for free. Privatize, and pay your own way.
Mike got his, now he wants to cut loose today’s kids.

You said money won’t fix it then told us money will fix rural districts. I agree that the state should contribute more and Corbett’s cuts hurt the schools but property tax elimination is a pie in the sky idea that will kill the economy.

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