Rally for Property Tax Independence, May 7, 2012, Capitol Rotunda, Harrisburg
Homeowners declare their independence from property taxes!
On Monday, May 7, 2012, an estimated one thousand sign waving Pennsylvania homeowners and scores of bipartisan supporting lawmakers packed the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg to declare their independence from the inequitable and oppressive burden of school property taxes through the Property Tax Independence Act.
Host RJ Harris of WHP Radio, Harrisburg, began the event by telling the crowd, “You were forced out of your home … To heck with your dream, their taxes come first and that’s wrong.”
The attendees heard from Representative Jim Cox, prime sponsor of House Bill 1776, and Senator David Argall, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 1400, identical legislation that will at last bring true home ownership to the people of Pennsylvania.
But the speakers at the Rally For Property Tax Independence were not the usual parade of politicians that is so common at these events. The legislators in attendance willingly surrendered their place at the lectern to allow homeowners, businesspeople, school board members, attorneys and others to tell their stories about the effect the property tax is having on their lives and the lives of those who surround them. These stories ranged from the heart-wrenching to the appalling and served to bring the depth and breadth of property tax problem into sharp perspective. Among others there was Ed Transue, a farmer from Luzerne County who has worked into retirement and sells homemade baked goods to pay his property taxes, Terry Sinclair, a former deputy sheriff from Berks County who said he was “ashamed and dishonored” to deliver foreclosure notices, and Dr. Catherine Fike, a school board member who described the workings of school boards that care little about the plight of homeowners.
One of the highlights of the rally was the unveiling of the “Declaration
of Property Tax Independence,” a poster-sized document signed by
the co-sponsors of the legislation that affirmed their commitment to the
elimination of the school property tax through the Property Tax Independence
Pennsylvania's Declaration of Property Tax Independence
More than 200 years ago, a group of statesmen and patriots gathered in Philadelphia to declare American independence from foreign tyranny. Today, Pennsylvania homeowners are tyrannized by a domestic menace that threatens their security on a daily basis: the burdensome, archaic and unfair school property tax system.
Having obtained our independence from British subjugation, the fight for freedom is incomplete until this barrier to liberty is removed once and for all. Among others, Pennsylvania homeowners identify the following grievances with the current school property tax system:
- Whereas the property tax system threatens the security of each and every Pennsylvania homeowner in his or her house;
- Whereas the revenue generated through the property tax inherently leads to an unequal level of financial support for the education of children dependent largely on where they reside within the Commonwealth;
- Whereas the current system is a menace to law-abiding citizens who, due to an inability to pay, may be removed from their homes;
- Whereas the current school property tax system places an unfair burden on those who own their homes to finance the public education system;
- Whereas the property tax bears no relationship with the resident's ability to pay for and support Pennsylvania's public education system;
- Whereas the property tax reduces job opportunities and drains more than $13 billion from the Commonwealth's economy each and every year;
Therefore, we the undersigned do solemnly swear to adhere to the following principles:
Recognizing that half-measures equate to half-freedoms, we therefore commit ourselves to the complete and total replacement of Pennsylvania's school property tax system.
Acknowledging that each child deserves the same opportunity to succeed and should be provided the same basic level of education, we therefore commit ourselves to replacing the financial support currently provided through property taxes with a fairer and more equitable system.
For the aforementioned reasons and bearing witness to the principles outlined above, we the undersigned hereby swear to do everything in our power to promote and advance the Property Tax Independence Act through the General Assembly of Pennsylvania during the current legislative session. Our support includes but is not limited to voting for the adoption of the bill in committees of the General Assembly, voting for the passage of the bill on the floor of the House and Senate, and voting to defeat any procedural roadblocks brought to bear in an effort to sidetrack or defeat the legislation. By signing this document below, we publicly declare our support for Property Tax Independence and agree to co-sponsor the Property Tax Independence Act.
Add your voice! You can help by signing the taxpayer Declaration of Property Tax Independence here.
An outstanding event!
The Rally For Property Tax Independence was an outstanding and meaningful step towards freedom from the burden of property taxes and a guarantee of a brighter future for the homeowners and schoolchildren of Pennsylvania.
The members and leaders of the PTCC and PCTA extend our thanks to the lawmakers and citizens who attended this event and to those who supported us but were unable to be there in person. We are grateful for your participation and assistance.
If you were one of those who couldn’t be there in person, please watch the video replay here. You’ll find it revealing, informative, and just plain inspiring.
A press release from Representative Jim Cox about the rally is below.
Homeowners Rally for Property Tax Replacement at State Capitol
HARRISBURG – More than 200 years ago, a group of American colonists gathered in Philadelphia to boldly declare American independence from the British Empire. This morning, a similar group of current-day patriots were surrounded by hundreds of passionate homeowners at a rally in the state Capitol Rotunda where state legislators took turns signing the “Pennsylvania Declaration of Property Tax Independence.”
“Tyranny – whether exercised by an overseas empire or a local tax system – is inherently un-American,” said Representative Jim Cox (R-Berks), prime sponsor of the Property Tax Independence Act (House Bill 1776), which the rally was organized to support. “I was honored to stand today with fellow patriots in opposition to the tyrannical property tax system. Tyranny, in whatever form it takes, must be completely abolished. It’s not something you can tweak or change. It has to be completely uprooted.”
At the rally, the stories of homeowners and employers who struggle underneath the burden of property taxes were shared. Following the gripping narratives, state representatives and senators signed the Pennsylvania Declaration of Property Tax Independence, a brief document vowing to doeverything within their power to replace the current property tax system by enacting House Bill 1776.
“Property taxes have always been a grassroots issue,” Cox said. “Homeowners may not have high-priced lobbyists or make huge campaign donations, but the power brokers in the Capitol would be foolish to ignore their demands. If a legislator’s name is not on the Declaration of Property Tax Independence, he or she is likely to hear about it from constituents back home in the district. This is a bottom-up approach to legislating instead of the customary, top-down approach where laws are created in smoke-filled rooms behind closed doors.”
In April, Cox and a large, bipartisan group of legislators unveiled the Property Tax Independence Act, which would replace the current school property tax system with new state revenues.
The Property Tax Independence Act would provide the same level of funding for schools across the Commonwealth as they currently receive through school property taxes. The bill would enhance collections through the state’s personal income tax by raising it from 3.07 percent to 4 percent. It also would generate additional funds by closing loopholes in the state sales tax and raising the rate from 6 percent to 7 percent.
The plan would apply the 7 percent sales tax to clothing and footwear that cost $50 or more, non-prescription drugs and food items that are not part of the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
A copy of the Pennsylvania Declaration of Property Tax Independence can be viewed on Cox’s website at www.RepJimCox.com.
For additional information about the Property Tax Independence Act, including a complete list of items that would be subject to the expanded state sales tax, constituents should visit www.RepJimCox.com and click on the “Property Tax Independence Act: Get the Details” banner link at the top of the page.
State Representative Jim Cox
129th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Photos: David Baldinger, Jr.
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