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Attempt To Move Schools Off Property Taxes Hits Snags

HARRISBURG PA — The latest Pennsylvania legislative proposal to eliminate property taxes as a school funding source, and replace them with higher sales and income taxes, has hit its first smags, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reported Monday (May 21, 2012).

Attempt To Move Schools Off Property Taxes Hits SnagsOpponents charged the proposal would redirect the cost of public education from property owners and businesses to individuals and small businesses. Others were against eliminating some exemptions in the state’s sales tax code, and still others questioned whether the state Legislature or local school boards like those in the Pottsgrove, Pottstown and Spring-Ford districts were best equipped to control education dollars.

The outpouring of opposition came from both sides of the aisle, only two weeks after a rally that brought several hundred taxpayers to the state capitol to call for the bill’s passage and an end to the property tax system.

Pottsgrove proposes to raise property taxes 3.54 percent next year to pay for its nearly $60 million budget; Spring-Ford on Monday discussed a 1.97-percent tax hike to cover its $126 million in expenses; and Pottstown is considering a 2.4-percent tax increase for its $52 million spending plan.

The bill, sponsored by Berks County state Rep. Jim Cox,, a Republican, would increase the state’s income tax from 3.07 percent to 4 percent, and its sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. It also would expand the sales tax base by eliminating several exemptions.

Similar plans have been around for decades but none ever made it through the General Assembly for various reasons, some of which were presented Monday.

A few lawmakers suggested most voters would support eliminating the property tax, but also would oppose higher sales and income taxes. Cox said the goal of the legislation was to do what was right for homeowners and property taxpayers. “No plan to completely replace school property taxes is going to please every special interest group,” he told The Independent.

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