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1776 Might Change School Funding For Taxpayers!

Will our representatives in PA finally get around to fixing the problem with taxpayers paying for schools?  If Bill 1776 has any weight they will.  Here is a co-sponsor that we should all be familiar with talking about his proposal in the bill-

  • “I think this pretty much lays out the groundwork for the elimination of the school property tax,” said state Rep. Thomas Quigley, R-146th Dist., a co-sponsor of the bill.
  • The new bill proposes raising the personal income tax in the state from 3.07 to 4 percent and the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. Additionally, some items previously exempt from the sales tax — for example, amusement parks, dry cleaners, newspapers and magazines — would be included under House Bill 1776.
  • Quigley said the new bill, which has 60 co-sponsors, has support from both sides of the aisle, including most lawmakers representing Berks, Chester and Montgomery counties.
  • Companion legislation to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution so that principal places of residence can be completely excluded from school property taxes was approved last month by the House Finance Committee. House Bill 2300, sponsored by state Rep. David Maloney, R-130th Dist., would increase the existing homestead tax exemption to cover the full assessed value of an owner-occupied residential property.
  • Kampf is approaching the latest effort to eliminate school taxes cautiously, citing unknown factors and their effects.
  • “Whenever you go to a wholesale tax change, you have to know the effects,” he said. “I’ll review it once it’s published and I want to see it vetted with experts talking about (possible) consequences.”
  • A concern Kampf voiced was who would control the tax dollars if school boards no longer had taxing authority.
  • “Proposals like this often mean most of our dollars go off to Harrisburg and they decide what they want to do with it,” Kampf said.
  • Kampf said he wanted to “protect local control.”
  • “While the property tax is a poor tool in funding our schools and our local municipal services, we need to be careful about whatever replacement we have for it,” Kampf said.
  • Quigley said Pottstown might benefit from the reform more than some of the “wealthier” districts in Montgomery County.
  • “Obviously the borough of Pottstown is in its own situation where most of the businesses and industry moved out,” Quigley said. “It’s a poorer community than others per capita.”
  • Both Toepel and Kampf said they’ve heard from local businesses regarding the new proposal.
  • “There could be additional burdens on them from collecting on the new taxable items,” Toepel said.
  • Kampf said there have been attempts to change school funding in the past that never came to fruition.
  • “In our local communities, we’ve had a number of referenda on changing,” Kampf said. “When push comes to shove, those things often aren’t done. There’s a concern on the impact on the local job sector.”
  • Quigley said a similar measure was proposed by former state Rep. Sam Rohrer in June 2006. The measure was an amendment to another bill and called for the expansion of a sales tax to all items sold in the state. The measure failed.
  • Quigley said Cox was on Rohrer’s staff at that time and helped draft the 2006 bill. Many of the concerns raised at that time have been addressed in House Bill 1776.
  • Toepel said she plans to have some dialogue with her constituents over the summer and hopes things will progress in the fall.
  • “Everybody should read as much as they can about (House Bill 1776),” she said.
  • Taking away the real estate tax and raising sales and income taxes might “come out as a wash,” for some family with “four kids,” but he thought some might benefit from the change, Quigley said.
  • “It comes down to how much you might spend,” Quigley said. “If you’re a senior, you might not be spending as much.”
  • Quigley said its possible that amendments could be attached to the bill to try to “water it down.”
  • “Most of these bills rarely wind up at the end of the day what they were in the beginning of the day,” he said.
  • Still, he believes it could be effective.
  • “We’re looking to help out low-income and fixed-income families and keep them in their homes,” Toepel said. “I think that’s a laudable goal.”
  • “The bottom line is I’m open to changes,” Kampf said.
  • No matter what happens, Quigley thinks the proposal of eliminating property taxes is big.
  • “The good news is this is back on the front burner,” he said.
  • House Bill 1776 has already been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition, a nonpartisan group of more than 50 taxpayer advocacy groups across the state.
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