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IMPORTANT! The short and long term impacts of enacting The Property Tax Independence Act. Click here.

A great piece from G. Terry Madonna and Michael Young. RIP: The School Property Tax! Click here.

We need property tax reform now! Speakers cheer on House, Senate bills 76. Click here.

Your home's equity is being stolen! How property taxes are reducing your home's value. Click here.

The brutality of tax eviction! A deputy sheriff speaks out. Click here.

The Real Faces of the Issue. Click here.

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Personal Property Tax Independence Act Tax Calculator
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Why school property taxes need to be eliminated!
Two excellent essays on the fallacy of property taxes for education funding.


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26 February 2008

Petty Politics = NOWHERE!

Dear Friends,

During the past week or so a substantial number of PTCC subscribers have written to me to ask where the school property tax elimination issue is headed.

In a word, NOWHERE.

Here's the status of every bill that's being considered - HB 1275, HB 1600 (2 versions), and HB 1489.

HB 1275, the bill supported by the PTCC and the PCTA, is still bottled up in the Appropriations Committee. Because Rep. Sam Rohrer couldn't get HB 1275 out of committee, he attached the language of HB 1275 as an amendment to HB 1600; unfortunately, it was defeated by political maneuvering and intense lobbyist pressure.

HB 1489, the 1/2% increase in the sales tax for an approximate $200 rebate, has not yet been considered but indications are that it will probably be defeated if it is returned to the House floor.

The original version of HB 1600 opposed by the PTCC and PCTA and promoted by Rep. David Levdansky (D-Allegheny) that called for a 1/2% increase in the sales tax and a 0.22% increase in the income tax for an approximate $400 rebate, is DEAD. The language of this bill was totally replaced by an amendment from Rep. John Perzel (R-Philadelphia) that gives ALL casino proceeds to those over 65 who earn less than $40,000 annually.

When their pride and joy, the Levdansky version of HB 1600, went down in flames, the Democratic House leadership panicked, went into total meltdown and quickly returned all property tax bills to committee. Even though they were garbage, the Democrats were counting on HB 1600 or HB 1489 to meet their promises for property tax “relief”. With neither of their pet bills viable and no fallback position, the Democratic leadership is in complete confusion.

It is possible that the Democratic leadership might try to do something during budget negotiations in March or April but at this point we have no indication whatsoever of when they will resume debate on property taxes. My feeling is that they will have to do SOMETHING before the election in November or take a huge risk that they’ll be hammered for not giving any of the property tax “relief” that they’ve promised for so long.

HB 1600 (Levdansky version): Dead
HB 1600 (Perzel version): Finance Committee
HB 1489: Finance Committee
HB 1275: Appropriations Committee

Since HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, was never debated as a bill but only as an amendment, it could still be brought to the floor for debate. If the Democrats get desperate enough they might just be willing to try to cut a deal with Rep. Rohrer to get 1275 to the floor. They have nothing else to offer, they've been promising property tax relief for three years, and now they’re facing an election with nothing accomplished. We'll see what happens.

It is almost a certainty that the Perzel version of HB 1600 will never be reported out of committee. The Democrat leaders do not want this bill passed, period. On the other hand, the Republicans (particularly Republican floor leader Rep. Sam Smith and Rep. Perzel) apparently don’t want to deal with this issue at all and reportedly don’t really care if the bill is ever released because they would consider it a win over the Democrats if the bill never came out of committee. All of this maneuvering has absolutely nothing to do with property tax reform - it’s all about the politics and which party wins or loses.

And THAT’S the real issue we’re facing right now. These legislators are playing their self-serving political games with no consideration whatsoever for the taxpayers who continue to suffer under the burden of oppressive school property taxes. The debate on these bills was loaded with distortions, omissions and just plain lies meant to justify lawmakers’ positions while they attempted to deceive the voters for political gain.

There is only one answer to this problem: during this election year, ELIMINATE the jobs of all lawmakers who refuse to support school property tax elimination through HB 1275, regardless of political party, and ignore their petty, politically-motivated excuses! The PTCC will be actively working against any incumbent or challenger who refuses to support this measure, starting with the House floor leadership – Rep. Sam Smith (R-Jefferson) and Rep. Bill DeWeese (D-Greene). Both of these leaders have opposed true education finance reform; both have challengers during this election and are vulnerable.

Tony Phyrillas of the Pottstown Mercury holds hope for true reform through the elimination of obstructive leaders who control their caucus members’ votes. As Tony recently stated in his blog: “Voters will have an opportunity to knock off captains and colonels and even some generals in 2008. If you cut off the head of the snake, you can kill it.” Tony is right on the mark – we must work to eliminate offending lawmakers in each district while also concentrating on these leaders.

Here are three resources to help you find offending lawmakers and their challengers:

If you don’t know your Representative’s name or district, you can find the information by Zip+4 here.

Next, see how your Representative voted when HB 1275, the School Property Tax Elimination Act, was debated as an amendment. The voting record is here.

Finally, the complete list of those running for office in 2008, both incumbents and challengers, is here by district.

When making your decision on how to vote in the upcoming elections, please try to ignore your party affiliation – there are candidates of both parties who will support our goals and these are the people who deserve our vote. There are also legislators of both parties who are responsible for the gridlock on this issue and I regard with equal contempt all of those who oppose true reform, regardless of political party. I hope that you will, too.

Otherwise, there isn’t a lot to be done immediately except to keep this issue on the front burner with letters to the editor and calls to radio talk shows. An occasional letter to your legislator will continue to help but mass e-mails are of little value while nothing is happening in the House.

I’ll keep you updated when there’s any new information.

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Today’s update has been posted on the PTCC Blog site. Please visit to add your comments on the current pathetic state of this issue.

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New PTCC Website

The PTCC website has been totally redesigned to make navigation easier and to give the site a fresher, more contemporary look. If you haven’t visited the website recently, please check out the new site and give it a test drive.

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New PCTA Member

The Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations has added its twenty-sixth member group! The latest group supporting our goals is the Ches-Lan Anti School Tax Payers Association (CLASTA), from western Chester/eastern Lancaster Counties. The leader and contact for this group is John McCartney, Welcome, CLASTA!

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In closing, I want to thank all of you for your continuing support of our efforts to achieve honest, equitable school finance reform. Please work to enlist the help of your family, friends, and neighbors in this campaign so we can have an even larger base of support for the benefit of all Pennsylvania taxpayers and schoolchildren. Please forward this e-mail to as many folks as possible! The more hands, the better!

Your questions, comments, and concerns are always welcome – please write to me at

David Baldinger
PTCC Administrator