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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Committee Approves ‘Property Tax Independence Act’

HARRISBURG – The Property Tax Independence Act was approved by the Senate Finance Committee today, according to the bill’s prime sponsors Senators David G. Argall (R-29), Mike Folmer (R-48), Judy Schwank (D-11) and John Yudichak (D-14).

“Today marks the first time in Senate history that there has been a vote in favor of eliminating the school property tax and represents a major victory for homeowners throughout the state,” Argall said. “For too many years, legislative plans to remedy this problem have languished in committee, never to see the light of day. While much work remains in the battle to rid ourselves of the state’s most-hated tax, approval of this legislation by the Senate Finance Committee is considerable progress toward our ultimate goal of removing this burden from homeowners once and for all.”

Senate Bill 76 would eliminate all school property taxes across the state. To replace the revenue the property tax currently provides to public schools, the legislation would broaden the base of the state sales tax to include more services and products as well as increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. The remainder of the funding necessary for public schools would be generated by an increase in the state’s personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.34 percent.

“Property tax elimination has been a long-debated topic with no legislative action for decades – we took a major step today to allow us to reach the much-needed and long-overdue goal of eliminating school property taxes,” Folmer said.

The legislation was authored through the combined efforts of more than 80 grassroots groups who are committed to eliminating the school property tax.

“There is no question that we can create a better and fairer way to fund our public schools. Approval of Senate Bill 76 allows us to take another big step toward that end,” Argall said. “I am deeply grateful for the support of so many grassroots organizations, and I appreciate the efforts of Chairman Brubaker, Chairman Blake and members of the Senate Finance Committee in helping us take the next step on the road to school property tax elimination.”

The bipartisan efforts of Senator Judy Schwank (D-11) and John Yudichak (D-14) pushed the co-sponsors to include 12 Democrats of the 25 total co-sponsors.

“There is no doubt that too many families in Berks County and throughout the commonwealth are being crushed by steep property levies, they need relief, and they need it quickly and today’s vote was in property owners’ favor,” Schwank said.

“The heavy burden of property taxes impacts all parts of the social and economic spectrum,” Yudichak said. “Today’s Finance Committee vote shows that the Senate recognizes the strong will of our constituents that want and deserve the elimination of high property taxes.”

“I am happy to advance Senate Bill 76 to continue this important discussion. I’m confident that every legislator agrees that property taxes and the way we fund public education in the Commonwealth is antiquated. That’s why the time has come to begin acting on an issue which is so very important to so many people,” said Senator Mike Brubaker (R-36), who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

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