08 June 2007
This newsletter is started with a request that is typically reserved for the end of these mailings, but I think that you’ll understand why after you’ve read this e-mail.
Please forward this e-mail to every Pennsylvania homeowner that you know!
On Tuesday, June 5, Representative Sam Rohrer was a guest on the PCN Call-in Program. While on the show he released details of soon-to-be-introduced legislation to ELIMINATE school property taxes and completely redefine education funding to bring it into the twenty-first century. This is the information for which we’ve been waiting, and we should see a formal announcement in the very near future.
The new legislation is officially named “The School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007” but is still known familiarly as the Plan for Pennsylvania’s Future. While it is similar in most respects to the plan released last year, there have been a few substantial changes that make it more acceptable to both parties and increase greatly the chance of its enactment.
Briefly, here are the details of the primary legislation:
- ELIMINATES all school property taxes on primary residences (homesteads/farmsteads)
and local school income taxes and local school nuisance levies such as
per capita and occupational taxes. Property taxes will be reduced by 25%
per year with complete elimination by the fourth year after enactment.
- Finances schools by:
• Broadening the state sales tax to include most services at 6%,
and clothing and processed food at a minimal 3% with some exceptions for
basic living expenses (listed below).
• Increasing the state income tax by 0.55%
- Funds schools from a dedicated Education Operating Fund separate from the general fund
- Balances inequities in district-to-district funding. Every school will receive the resources it needs regardless of the local ability to pay.
- Establishes a cost control methodology for greater efficiency.
- Eliminates unfunded mandates.
Exemptions from the sales tax for consumers include fresh fruit, fresh produce and fresh meats; milk, bread, eggs and cheese; food stamp and WIC purchases; all residential utilities – gas, electric, water, heating fuels; health services – hospitals, doctors and dentists, and all prescription drugs; public transportation. In addition, exemptions for businesses include core business to business services – accounting, engineering, research, computer and legal services; sale for resale; advertising; trucking; manufacturing wholesale purchases.
There is a companion bill that calls for a constitutional amendment that will forever ABOLISH school property taxes on primary residences and allow for taxation on commercial properties at 50% of their original rate.
Those are the highlights of the Plan. If you’d like more details, they’re available on the PTCC website here.
A comprehensive Excel calculator has been developed by Rick Ritter of the Coatesville Taxpayers Alliance that will show you how you will be affected by this legislation. Since the cost of education is spread over a much broader base with the Plan for Pennsylvania’s Future, almost all homeowners will realize substantial savings from this plan. The calculator is available here. Please give it a test drive!
Because the revised Plan for Pennsylvania’s Future was written with input from both parties, it has received broad support on both sides of the aisle. Further, House Speaker Dennis O’Brien, while appearing on the PCN Call-in Program on June 6, had this comment when talking about the Plan and Representative Rohrer: “I’m a full participant in trying to help him move that initiative”.
** ACTION ITEM **
This legislation is ready to go NOW! What we need to do is show overwhelming support to leave no doubt in the lawmakers’ minds that this plan is what is wanted and needed by Pennsylvania taxpayers. We need everyone’s help to do this.
Please write to your Representative to let him or her know that you strongly support passage of the Plan for Pennsylvania’s Future, that you want it passed NOW, and that any plan that is only a temporary fix and does not eliminate school property taxes is unacceptable. Ask them to co-sponsor this legislation and let them know that you will hold them accountable during the 2008 elections if they do not support this initiative.
If you’re uncomfortable with writing your own letter, a sample letter in MS Word format is available here. Revise it in any way that you wish, then print it to mail or fax, or copy and paste it into an e-mail. You can also phone your Representative if you wish.
You can find your Representative’s contact information by Zip+4 here.
It would also be a huge help if you would be willing to contact House leadership as well. Here’s the information:
Hon. H. William DeWeese
110 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202050
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2050
Fax: (717) 772-3605
Hon. Keith R. McCall
121 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202122
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2122
Fax: (717) 772-1231
Hon. Sam H. Smith
423 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202066
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2066
Fax: (717) 787-6564
Hon. David G. Argall
428 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202124
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2124
Fax: (717) 783-8657
We are currently experiencing a “perfect storm” of circumstances that favor major changes in education funding. In a Quinnipiac University poll that was released on May 30, fully 89% of the respondents said that property tax reform is very or somewhat important. Act 1 has been proven a fiasco by the failure of three of its four major provisions, including the May tax shift referendum that was defeated in 98% of Pennsylvania school districts. Taxpayer discontent over the Legislature’s and the Governor’s handling of this issue has never been greater, and the politicians know that they will face big trouble in the 2008 elections if they fail to solve this problem.
All that is needed to push this measure over the top is the catalyst of voter opinion. The time to act is NOW! Please help by completing today’s action item and by spreading this message to everyone you know.
LET’S ALL WORK TOGETHER TO GET THIS DONE!
Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.