Measure fails by 25-24 vote.
Harrisburg –Senator Mario Scavello (R-40) voted Monday for legislation that would permanently eliminate all school property taxes in Pennsylvania and establish a fairer way to fund public schools.
The vote to amend House Bill 683 to include provisions from Senate Bill 76, known as the Property Tax Independence Act, failed by a vote of 25 to 24, with the Lieutenant Governor breaking a 24-24 tie.
“School property tax reform has remained my highest priority since I was first elected State Representative. This fight is of particular importance for Monroe and Northampton counties – and the entire Commonwealth – as it provides much-needed relief to seniors on fixed incomes, families struggling to make ends meet while putting their children through school, and first-time homebuyers pursuing the ‘American Dream’ of homeownership,” said Scavello. “It is extremely frustrating to come so close to a historic victory and come up short.”
The measure would have eliminated 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 and increase the rate from 6 percent to 7 percent. The remainder of the funding necessary for public schools would be generated by an increase in the state personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 4.95 percent.
Existing revenue dedicated to property tax relief from casinos would be used to eliminate school property taxes. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program would continue to provide assistance for county and municipal property tax relief for those who qualify. The new revenue sources would replace dollar-for-dollar the revenues lost by the school property tax elimination.
Under the proposed legislation, any school district seeking to spend above the allotment from the state would have to ask the voters for their support in a referendum. School districts may locally increase the personal income tax or earned income tax only if approved by the voters in that district, Scavello said.
The legislation was authored through the combined efforts of more than 80 grassroots groups who are committed to eliminating the school property tax.
“I knocked on 10,000 doors this past year. And as I approached those doors, 95 percent of the people mentioned Senate Bill 76,” Scavello said. “This fight is not over. As has been said before, no tax should have the power to leave you homeless.”
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