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PTCC UPDATE AND ACTION ITEM
September 3, 2014
I hope all of you had a wonderful and enjoyable summer! Our Harrisburg lawmakers will be returning to session on September 15, so it’s time for us to renew the fight for property tax independence.
Here’s where HB 76 and SB 76, the Property Tax Independence Act, stands right now.
HB 76 is essentially dead in the water in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives since the House GOP leadership that controls the flow of legislation continues to keep the special interest opponents of HB 76 fat and happy and adamantly refuses to allow a vote on the bill. That could change in the future and I’ll issue an update if there is any news.
SB 76 is still alive in the Pennsylvania Senate with half of the members as co-sponsors – 13 Republicans, 12 Democrats and terrific bipartisan support. The bill is currently in the Senate Finance Committee awaiting action but has not moved because it has insufficient votes in that committee to send it to the floor. The SB 76 prime sponsors are continuing to work to garner the votes to move the bill.
The prime sponsors are also working on other methods to bring SB 76 to the full Senate for a floor vote and we could possibly see action shortly after session resumes. The sponsors are very positive about the outcome of a vote by the full Senate and believe that SB 76 will achieve passage when a vote is allowed. There will be a PTCC Update when we have further information on this effort.
Senator David Argall issued a news release early this summer about the progress of SB 76 here and on August 19 a news story with more details about the effort was widely published in newspapers across the state. You can read it here.
Regarding a possible Senate vote, there is one VERY important thing you can do to help that will literally take you less than one minute to complete. Please sign the online petition at change.org that will be printed and hand-delivered to all Senators when session resumes. This petition has already been signed by more than 2,300 Pennsylvania taxpayers and the addition of your name can help to move the Property Tax Independence Act to the Senate floor for a vote. Please do it NOW! The petition is here.
You can also contact your Senator and request that he or she help to bring SB 76 to the Senate floor and support the bill with their vote. You can find the name and contact information for your Senator here.
I have received emails from many of you asking where the candidates for Governor stand on passage of HB 76 and SB 76. Here’s the latest information from published sources.
Tom Wolf, the Democratic candidate, does not support the Property Tax Independence Act. His solution to the property tax crisis is to impose an extraction tax on Marcellus shale gas. He states that the revenue will be used to bring the state’s share of education funding to 50%, reducing reliance on property taxes. This is no solution at all and does nothing to solve the structural failure of the education finance and property tax system. More details on that failure and the urgency of solving this problem are available in an analysis available here. We attempted though an intermediary to arrange a meeting with Mr. Wolf or his campaign staff to discuss HB 76 and SB 76 but we have received no response.
Although Governor Tom Corbett, the Republican candidate, has said he will sign the Property Tax Independence Act if it reaches his desk, he has otherwise done nothing to support the legislation and has not made it a campaign issue despite our meeting with his campaign staff where we urged him to do so. His solution to the property tax problem as stated in his campaign materials and public appearances is to pass legislation to address the public pension crisis that will, in turn, reduce the reliance on property taxes. This, like Mr. Wolf’s plan, is no solution in any manner. In fact, the pension legislation that the Governor is supporting will have essentially no effect on school district budgets for at least five years and many more years will pass before there is any effect on property taxes.
Governor Corbett has a very slight edge because he states that he will sign the bill but otherwise it’s pretty much a toss-up. It is a shame that neither candidate has seen fit to demonstrate total support for the Property Tax Independence Act, so I’m not making a recommendation at this time and the choice is yours.
HB 76 AND SB 76 PRESENTATION:
I’ll be giving the Property Tax Independence Act presentation in Johnstown on Thursday, September 11. If you live in the Cambria County area please plan to join us at the Holiday Inn, 250 Market Street, Johnstown, at 7:00 to learn more about the Property Tax Independence Act and to show your support. Please bring a few friends, too!
That’s today’s Update. Please remember to sign the online SB 76 petition and contact your legislators. And please join the discussion on the PTCC Facebook page where you’ll always find the latest property tax news and suggestions on how you can help. The Facebook page has more than 3,200 members and has been growing rapidly, so we’d like to have you join us!
Finally, please forward this email to everyone on your Pennsylvania address list. We need as many folks as possible to support the effort!
Thank you, everyone, for all of your help and hard work. We, as united grassroots supporters, can beat the special interests that oppose HB 76 and SB 76 to win the fight for true property tax independence.
Join the effort and stay informed on how you can help! Subscribe to the free PTCC email updates here. (email@example.com)