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January 29, 2013
If you want school property tax elimination as much as me, it’s time to get busy!
I know that some of you are tired and discouraged from the long fight but I’m asking you now to reinvigorate yourselves and give this cause your full effort for this legislative session. There is a lot of positive information coming out of Harrisburg and we’ve gained a ton of new grassroots support in the past few months. We feel very confident that this could be the year that we finally eliminate the school property tax but it’s going to take a concerted effort from all of us.
It’s time to get to work on our first task of the new legislative session. The Property Tax Independence Act will be re-introduced shortly in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives as HB 76; the Senate version will be introduced as SB 76. As the first step in the process, co-sponsorship memorandums have been posted for both the House and Senate versions of the Property Tax Independence Act and we need to encourage as many Representatives and Senators as possible to add their names as co-sponsors of the legislation before the formal introductions that will take place in a few weeks.
Please find as many people as you can to call, write, or email the lawmakers in their district to request their co-sponsorship of this legislation. Be courteous, respectful and non-threatening when requesting this but don’t be afraid to be firm; always remember that we do not want to create enemies. If you can, personalize your request to let the Representative and Senator know why you believe that their support of this legislation is important. Please emphasize that this is OUR – the people’s – legislation; we, as grassroots activists, helped to craft the Property Tax Independence Act in collaboration with members of the General Assembly. If you wish, you can also use some of the talking points below my signature that contain extracts from the official Independent Fiscal Office analysis of the legislation. If you receive any objections that “the numbers don’t work,” refer to the first paragraph of the talking points.
If the Representative or Senator is already a co-sponsor or commits to co-sponsoring the legislation, be sure to thank him or her. If the legislator is not a co-sponsor or will not immediately commit, be persistent and continue to contact him or her every few days to repeat your request. Again, please be courteous but remember that there are no legitimate reasons to not support the Property Tax Independence Act, only excuses used to hide the real reason for opposing the legislation.
Since the HB 76/SB 76 bill numbers will not be official until the legislation is introduced, it might be best to refer to the Property Tax Independence Act sponsored by Representative Cox (for Representatives) or sponsored by Senators Argall, Folmer, Yudichak, and Schwank (for the Senate). If there is any confusion you might also refer to last session’s bill numbers, HB 1776/SB 1400. Note that the announced Senate prime sponsors include two Republicans and two Democrats, a terrific demonstration of bipartisan support and agreement that might be worth mentioning when you contact Senators.
We need as many contacts as possible with each lawmaker, so please spread this message as widely as possible. Please forward a link to this page to everyone you know and ask them to help with this effort.
Contact information for Representatives and Senators by Zip Code or county is here.
We CAN make the Property Tax independence Act a reality this session with solid grassroots support. Please forward this email immediately to everyone in your Pennsylvania address book and do all that you can to spread the word!
My thanks to all of you for your help.
Here are the benefits to Pennsylvania from enactment of the Property Tax Independence Act as stated in the Independent Fiscal Office (IFO) analysis of the legislation:
(IFO analysis page numbers and my comments are in parentheses.)
A financial analysis of the 2011-2012 version of the Property Tax Independence Act that was released on September 25, 2012, by the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office indicated that, with minor revenue adjustments, the plan is financially viable. Those adjustments have been made for the 2013-2014 introduction of the legislation.
The IFO analysis projects that if the legislation is delayed and is not enacted until 2017 school property taxes will increase and it will take an additional half-billion dollars from the state level to make the plan viable. (Page 3) The report also projects that school property taxes will increase more than $4 billion from the current replacement level of $10.063 billion to $14.188 billion by 2017.
Beyond the purely financial aspects of the plan, the IFO drew these conclusions:
• The report projects that in year five after enactment HB 1776 will save $1.152 billion annually in the replacement revenue compared to the growth of property taxes if that system remained in place (Page 4, fourth line from the bottom). Property taxes historically rise at greater than three times the level of inflation (which, by the way, is unsustainable in the long term); HB 1776 limits the growth of the replacement funding to the rate of inflation.
• The elimination of school property taxes increases the disposable income of property taxpayers. The analysis assumes that 70% of the property tax cut goes to individuals. It further assumes that homeowners spend 90% of the increase in disposable income. (Pages 17-18) (This would be an explosive economic stimulus for Pennsylvania.)
• The analysis indicates that HB 1776 will cause home values to increase, on average, by more than 10% statewide. (Page 23) (This would restore a big chunk of the equity that was lost to homeowners during the 2008 housing downturn.)
• (Regarding business entities) … the income flows through to individuals as higher disposable income. For pass through entities, the analysis assumes that owners and shareholders spend 90 percent of the increase and 70 percent is spent on taxable goods and services, yielding another secondary effect of $34 million in increased sales taxes for FY 2013-14. (Page 18) (More economic stimulus.)
• Working age homeowners realize a tax cut. The analysis finds that the increase in federal income tax (through lower itemized deductions), state income tax, and sales tax is more than offset by the reduction in property taxes. (Page 21)
• Retired homeowners realize a significant reduction in taxes. The analysis finds that the property tax reduction easily offsets any increase from the higher sales tax. (Page 21)
• Benefits would also accrue to home builders, home developers, and other land owners who convert current land holdings into new housing plots. Employment would increase in the construction sector as well. (Page 23)
• The elimination of property taxes would significantly reduce the property tax share and would clearly increase the attractiveness of the Commonwealth for business location and expansion. (Page 25) (Such an increase of businesses in Pennsylvania and expansion of existing businesses would create many much-needed jobs.)
These talking points are also available as a printable PDF document here if you wish to circulate them.
Join the effort and stay informed on how you can help! Subscribe to the free PTCC email updates here. (email@example.com)