Brown Adds Support to New Property Tax Plan
HARRISBURG – Legislation that would give taxpayers and local governments more say in the way public education is funded at the local level was the subject of a public hearing of the House Finance Committee this week, said Rep. Rosemary M. Brown (R-Monroe/Pike), a co-sponsor of the proposal.
“Skyrocketing property taxes is the No. 1 issue across the Pocono region, and this legislation represents the best effort I’ve seen thus far to address education funding at the local level,” Brown said. “This plan allows voters to have the ultimate say in whether education should be funded through property taxes, income taxes or sales and use taxes.”
Under House Bill 2230, counties, through voter referendum, would be permitted to enact a 1 percent county-level sales tax to reduce school property tax millage rates. The legislation would also allow local taxing authorities to levy a local income tax, with the option of a Personal Income Tax (PIT) or an Earned Income Tax (EIT). The revenue collected would offset a reduction in property taxes by at least 30 percent, depending on the tax rate. Local taxing authorities could opt to completely eliminate property taxes under the plan, if enough revenue is generated from an alternative source.
The proposal also includes inflationary guidelines on tax increases for municipalities, public school districts and counties, which would be compelled to freeze property taxes if they opt to enact a tax shift. School districts would be subject to current inflationary index requirements and exceptions that already exist in state law.
“This plan makes far more sense than other property tax proposals because it allows flexibility at the local level,” Brown said. “One of the reasons why a statewide approach has not succeeded is that some areas of the state aren’t experiencing the same high tax rates as our local communities. This allows our counties, municipalities and school districts to make the choices that best suit us.
“In our area, property taxes aren’t just a burden on homeowners and senior citizens,” Brown said. “The high tax rates are discouraging to economic development efforts and aren’t helping to strengthen our economy. By shifting the property tax burden to another revenue source, we take the bulk of the financial burden from homeowners and more equitably place it on a larger population, thereby lessening it for everyone.”
Brown is still advocating for greater education funding at the state level, a plea she made before the House Appropriations Committee last week. She is also suing the state, along with Rep. Mario Scavello (R-Monroe), for an unconstitutional funding formula that has shortchanged her schools and constituents over the last 20 years.
State Representative Rosemary M. Brown
189th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton