The Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations
for equitable education funding reform
PCTA Press Releases
Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations
Endorses School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007
Condemns HB 1600 as Another Act 1 Failure
Sadsbury Township, PA, August 19, 2007 - Pennsylvania taxpayers won't accept another feeble attempt at property tax reform by the Pennsylvania Legislature. More than two dozen officials of the PCTA's 21 member taxpayer groups from all across Pennsylvania met in Sadsbury Township, Chester County, on Sunday August 19. The statewide meeting was also attended by several guests, including State Representatives Jim Cox from Berks County and Thomas Quigley from Montgomery County.
A resolution supporting The School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007 was unanimously passed and signed by all PCTA member groups in attendance as “the only viable and financially sound solution that provides true property tax reform, equitable funding for public schools, and cost control.” The School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007 is a bi-partisan effort that will be introduced in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in the fall of 2007. The bill would completely eliminate school property tax as well as other nuisance taxes like school district earned income taxes and per capita taxes. Public schools would be funded by broadening the 6% state sales tax, and a new tax of 3% on clothing and food items with the exception of fresh meats, produce, and dairy products. The PCTA has been following this bill closely for over a year which was previously studied by Fishkind & Associates, and most recently, Economy.com, a subsidiary of Moody’s. Both independent firms found the plan to be financially sound and also likely to spur economic growth in addition to solving the school property tax crisis in Pennsylvania.
At the meeting, member groups also unanimously condemned the recently introduced HB 1600 as more smoke and mirrors. Officials from PCTA member groups will be attending and speaking at hearings on HB 1600. “Like Act 1 and its predecessors, Acts 72 and 50, HB 1600 would offer only token reductions in property taxes while opening up new avenues to tax Pennsylvania citizens without addressing the cause of the current crisis,” said David Baldinger who runs the PTCC, a member group of the PCTA. “Since school property taxes are not eliminated under HB 1600, they will continue to escalate leaving the taxpayer with the same burdensome property tax plus new taxes under HB 1600, without addressing the cost of education, the property tax crisis, or the issue of equitable funding for public schools.”
The PCTA previously took a strong position condemning Act 1 and actively worked to educate the public that it was far from the property tax relief they have been seeking for decades. Ultimately, Act 1 was overwhelmingly rejected by taxpayers at the ballot box in 2007 in almost every district in Pennsylvania. “If Pennsylvania taxpayers still have a bad taste in their mouths from the Legislature’s attempt to fool the public with Act 1, then HB 1600 is going to require an extra strength mouthwash,” said Joel Sears, who runs the York County Taxpayers Council, also a member of the PCTA. “It’s the same concept all over again.”
“Some members traveled close to 300 miles from the western part of the state to attend this important membership meeting, which is a testament to the commitment of our member groups across Pennsylvania,” said Becky Heller, an official from the Patriot’s Voice, a PCTA member group from Luzerne and Columbia counties.
The PTCA urges taxpayers to contact their legislators in support of The
Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007 and in opposition to HB 1600. For
more information, or to join the PCTA, please visit www.ptcc.us, a member
website that is used to promote the mission of the PCTA. The website also
contains an independently developed calculator for taxpayers to see how
The Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007 will benefit them.
Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations
Demands Repeal of Act 1
Harrisburg, PA, July 22, 2006 - Sixteen taxpayer advocacy groups from across the Commonwealth met for the first time at the Capitol Building in Harrisburg on Friday, 21 July 2006, uniting to denounce the recently enacted Act 1.
Through four hours of discussion and debate, they unanimously resolved to demand the immediate repeal of Act 1, the Governor’s and Legislature’s version of property tax relief.
Citing the fact that the Act gives only the lowest income senior citizens a mere $150 increase in property tax relief, while ignoring the rest of the property owners in the state who pay astronomically high property tax bills, the Coalition wants everyone to realize the massive fraud that has been perpetrated on the people of Pennsylvania.
“Ed Rendell claims this Act represents $1 billion in property tax relief. He is lying,” stated Cheryl Zaleski, spokesperson for the Coalition. “Property tax relief is supposed to be funded with future gaming revenues from slot machines. The gaming fund begins $300 million in debt thanks to Rendell’s pandering for the senior citizen vote, and a whole host of statewide programs must be funded before an accumulation of $400 million exists for initial distribution to property owners statewide. This will take years and years to achieve.”
“In the meantime, school property taxes continue to rise well above the rate of inflation, the exceptions given to permit school boards the ability to avoid voter referendum render the concept of the people controlling expenditures meaningless, and the Legislature expects everyone to pay an increased local EIT. These increases wipe out close to all savings the vast majority of homesteaders are targeted to receive whenever the gaming distribution begins. In short, the ‘property tax relief’ the Governor is championing is nothing more than another Rendell tax increase for the overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians.”
The Coalition wants the Legislature to focus on property tax reform. The goal is to eliminate school district property taxes for primary residences, at minimum, and fund public schools with state revenues. Some coalition members advocate the elimination of all school district property taxes while some want to eliminate all primary residential property taxes.
The Coalition also recognizes that no matter what the funding source
is for education, it needs cost controls. Another resolution passed by
the Coalition supports a bill sponsored by State Representative Will Gabig.
It will end teacher strikes in Pennsylvania and seeks the support of state
legislators as co-sponsors to demonstrate their support for children and
working families in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations
Denounce Passage of Special Session HB 39
groups unanimously denounce the passage of
Special Session HB 39 and call for its immediate repeal
Coatesville, PA, June 19, 2006 - Pennsylvania Legislators had a golden opportunity to pass real property tax reform but instead pandered to special interest groups, including but not limited to the PSBA, abandoning representation of the citizens they were elected to represent.
The goal, property tax reform, was somehow discarded as the debate progressed. We cite the following major issues that exacerbate inequities in public school funding and are likely to contribute to the continued rapid escalation in property taxes:
1. The shift to a higher local earned income tax under SSHB 39 in exchange for an offsetting reduction in property tax is not tax reform and does nothing to solve inequitable funding across all school districts.
2. Stressed school districts that have insufficient assessed value to support education also lack a sufficient earned income base, rendering the shift to local earned income tax useless in solving funding inequities.
3. Small rebates that may become available from slots revenue do not impact property tax reduction equally. In fact, the highest gambling subsidies are provided to school districts where the tax burden is low and the lowest subsidies are provided to districts where the tax burden is the greatest. SSHB 39 also exacerbates funding inequities with widely disparate EIT rates in order to fund a basic Pennsylvania Constitutional requirement, violating the tax uniformity clause.
4. The threshold permitted before a school district must seek voter referendum is not based on the cost of living index as many legislators have led us to believe. In fact, it varies by school district and is currently between 3.9% and 6.5%, with the higher limits in areas where property tax is already the most burdensome. Fearful school boards will likely reach for the limit whether needed or not, further contributing to out-of-control property taxes.
5. The exemptions to the backend referendum are so generous that they render it useless in the vast majority of districts. To illustrate, of the 110 districts which opted in to Act 72, only 1 required voter referendum, even though many districts proposed budget increases in excess of their district’s index. Further, budgeting is not exact and creative school boards will rearrange line items, creating the appearance that large increases fall within the exemptions. True reform will end school boards’ powers to tax and fund public education with state revenues.
The pay raise was a bad idea and was repealed. SSHB 39 is even worse and must be immediately repealed. True property tax reform would have returned real ownership of homes to ALL homeowners by eliminating property taxes and controlling costs through economies of scale, thereby solving funding inequities across all school districts and stimulating the economy. However, it received no support from Speaker John Perzel, who informed members of the House that he did not care about this issue.
The pay raise debacle opened one eye of a sleeping giant. SSHB 39 has opened the other. Taxpayer groups from all over the Commonwealth are networking and now plan a joint meeting to denounce SSHB 39 and any legislator who voted in favor of it. Before November, legislators must do the right thing – repeal it!