Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Property Tax Circus Coming To Your Town

House Democrats have come up with another scheme they are billing as property tax relief. Pennsylvania lawmakers have embarked on a statewide tour to promote the latest plan to partially reduce property taxes by increasing other taxes.

This one is called House Bill 1600. If the plan sounds familiar, it's because it's another bait-and-switch scheme the Legislature and Gov. Ed Rendell have cooked up. It sounds like another half-measure similar to Rendell's slots bill of 2004 or Act 72 of 2005 or Act 1 of 2006, House Bill 1600 is more smoke and mirrors. Another carnival shell game.

This is not the property tax elimination promised by the Commonwealth Caucus Plan, which was last voted on by the House two years. The plan was supported by 64 Republicans and 10 Democrats, but was rejected by the majority of the Democratic Caucus. Supporters want to resurrect a modified version of the Commonwealth Caucus Plan this fall (now called the School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007), but not if House Bill 1600 gets any traction.

The two leading state taxpayer groups advocating elimination of property taxes in Pennsylvania have already rendered a verdict on the Democrats' version of tax relief. It's thumbs down on House Bill 1600 from both the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayers Associations and S.T.O.P. (Stop Taxing Our Properties).

Both groups warn that this is nothing but another half-measure by politicians who want to fool taxpayers with another Band-Aid approach to tax reform.

Here's what Bob Logue of S.T.O.P had to say:

"They’re at it again. Some legislators, led by Rep. Dave Levdansky, D-Allegheny County, have repackaged the same old property tax scam voters have rejected three times. House Bill 1600 would: Temporarily reduce school property taxes while permanently increasing sales/use taxes and the state income tax. Because there is nothing in this legislation that would prevent school taxes from increasing again, you would eventually be paying higher property taxes again along with the higher income and sales taxes."

S.T.O.P. is urging Pennsylvania residents to contact their state legislators and tell them you want him or her to oppose House Bill 1600.

"Tell them the only true property tax reform is total abolishment of all property taxes and assessments/reassessments on primary residences," Logue said. "The S.T.O.P. plan is complete, proven workable by the legislative budget and finance committee, and permanent. The S.T.O.P. plan kills property taxes on primary residences … period."

Read more about plan at

Here's what David Baldinger of the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations said about House Bill 1600: "Pennsylvania taxpayers won't accept another feeble attempt at property tax reform by the Pennsylvania Legislature. Like Act 1 and its predecessors, Act 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."

Representatives of the PCTA's 21 member taxpayer groups from across Pennsylvania met in Chester County over the weekend to unanimously condemn House Bill 1600 and to endorse the School Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007.

"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," Baldinger said.

Members of various taxpayer groups plan to attend hearings across the state by House Democrats to speak against HB 1600.

The next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29, at 10 a.m. in the Oley Fair Center, 26 Jefferson St., Oley. Berks, Chester and Montgomery residents are urged to attend the meeting and voice their opposition to House Bill 1600 and support for the Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007.

For more information, visit the PCTA Web site at

For all the talk state lawmakers have given us so far this year about reform, the No. 1 reform Pennsylvania taxpayers want to see — elimination of property taxes — has yet to be considered by the Legislature.

It's time to put pressure on your lawmaker, especially the ones who ran on a reform platform in 2006, to bring the Property Tax Elimination Act of 2007 up for a vote. Let's see where lawmakers stand on genuine property tax reform.

(A big thanks to Vicki Rhodier for this timely cartoon)

1 comment:

Chris O'Donnell - Teamsters Local 384 said...

Sounds like the Properety Elimination Tax of 2007 might be our best option. I'm like everyone else, skeptical, but much more accepting of this Bill than all the others combined. Has anyone thought of how taxing non-essential food items(potato chips, ice cream, etc) might benefit our children? Mom & Dad will think twice about buying all that junk food, which is a good thing as far as I,m concerned. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out