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14 January 2008
** VERY URGENT ACTION ITEMS **
If you want school property tax ELIMINATION and if you have not responded to a PTCC Action Item in the past, RIGHT NOW is the time to do so! This may be our only chance this session to have the School Property Tax Elimination Act passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
It is almost certain that several property tax bills will be reported out of the House Appropriations Committee on Monday (1/14):
HB 1600: This is the worthless Levdansky/Scavello bill that will raise the sales tax and state income tax to finance a rebate of approximately an average $414. If you don’t remember the details, the explanation is here.
HB 1489: This is the DeWeese bill that is also known as “HB 1600 Lite”. It does not raise the state income tax like HB 1600 but raises the sales tax by 0.5% to finance a small homestead rebate of approximately an average $205. Otherwise the provisions are identical to HB 1600. Reportedly, the governor told the democratic caucus last week that this is the only bill he wants to see approved by the House.
Both of these bills are dangerous pieces of legislation that work on the same principle as the Act 1 tax shift referendum that was so soundly rejected by the voters last May. They permanently raise taxes for a small, temporary rebate that will quickly be eaten away by relentlessly rising property taxes. They do nothing to control costs, address equity for underfunded schools or to solve the education finance crisis. They are WORTHLESS SCAMS that are meant to deceive us unto believing that the politicians have given us property tax “relief” and can be jammed down our throats without any chance for us to reject them. They are simply a PERMANENT TAX INCREASE and must be rejected.
HB 93: This one has slipped under the radar but will still be an issue. The bill provides for the implementation of special tax provisions FOR FIRST-CLASS CITIES ONLY that allow for the refund or forgiveness of property tax liability for certain low-income, disabled, or senior citizens. This is simply more pandering for votes and will take money from property tax relief for other areas of the state.
THE BILL WE SUPPORT, HB 1275, THE SCHOOL PROPERTY TAX ELIMINATION ACT, IS STONEWALLED AND IS NOT SCHEDULED TO BE REPORTED OUT OF COMMITTEE!
Floor debate and voting on the bills that are reported out of committee is possible as early as Wednesday (1/16), with final passage possible as early as Thursday (1/17). It appears now that property taxes will be debated and voted without any consideration of HB 1275. This is an absolute travesty that is fueled purely by the political motives of the House majority leadership. This cowardly maneuver will not allow a straight up or down vote on HB 1275 and will again deny true property tax reform to Pennsylvanians.
It is possible that the sponsors of HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, could attach the HB 1275 language as an amendment to any of the worthless bills that will be debated. This will force the legislature to deal with this issue. We’ll know in a day or so if this happens.
** ACTION ITEMS **
** First, please immediately forward this e-mail to everyone you know and ask them to participate in this Action Item. We need as many voices as possible NOW.
** Second, call or e-mail your representative NOW to DEMAND that they support HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, and that they REJECT HB 1600 and HB 1489. Tell them that your vote for them in 2008 will depend on their support of HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, whether it is presented as a free-standing bill or as an amendment to another bill. Ignore any mealy-mouthed excuses that they may offer. Contact information for your representative is available here.
You must take these actions before Tuesday, January 15!
My mood right now is exemplified by the famous line by Peter Finch in the movie Network: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”. All of you should be equally angry with this political smoke-and-mirrors game, too. The Harrisburg politicians have done NOTHING of substance this session and they are about to hand us NOTHING again.
Over ten thousand Pennsylvanians lose their homes to sheriff’s sales each year; many more are forced to sell their hard-earned homes because they can’t afford the burden of property taxes; schoolchildren in over 100 districts are receiving a marginal education because the residents can no longer adequately support the schools. Literally tens of thousands of Pennsylvania residents are suffering – truly suffering - because of oppressive property taxes, yet the Harrisburg politicians continue to shuffle our lives like pawns on a chessboard while they play their foul political games and pander to the special interests. They ignore our needs and wants; they are despicable and are anything but true representatives of the people. They must do what is right for the people of Pennsylvania or be voted out of office in 2008. They must be told NOW, in the strongest voice possible, that “WE are mad as hell and WE’RE not going to take it anymore!”.
This is the time that we have been working towards for the past two years. It is URGENT that we make a strong effort now to ensure that the competing bogus bills do not pass and that HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, is enacted. PLEASE do all that you can during the next few days to involve as many folks as possible in this effort.
Your help now will make a difference in your life and the lives of all Pennsylvanians.
Please write to me with questions or concerns and please feel free to add your comments for everyone to read on the PTCC blog here.