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Renewed Effort to Eliminate School Property Tax

HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) There is a renewed effort at the state capitol to eliminate school property taxes. If passed though Pennsylvanians would have to pay more in other taxes. Eyewitness News Reporter Matt Heckel reports.

Senate Bill 76 would get rid of school property taxes in Pennsylvania. The bill's main sponsor, Republican Senator Dave Argall.  Calls the taxes outdated and says paying them is hurting some of the state's most vulnerable citizens.
 "Seniors on fixed incomes are the ones that are hurt the most."
School districts are estimated to collect 14 billion dollars in property taxes this school year. 
If those taxes are eliminated the money will have to be made up elsewhere.

  "More sales tax. More income tax. We believe that's the only way fairly to eliminate the school property tax." Said Sen. Argall.

The bill would raise the personal income tax from three to five percent and sales tax from six to seven percent. It would also impose a sales tax on currently exempt items... Like some food and clothes.

  "Those taxes will absolutely hurt the average Pennsylvanian."
Democratic Representative Peter Schweyer says he's open to providing tax relief to seniors.. but against this bill.
 : "It's being sold as property tax relief for your everyday citizen, but it is nothing more than a massive corporate tax giveaway in Pennsylvania."
But Senator Argall argues that's not the case, pointing to a constitutional amendment voted on in November, which gives them the option to only do property tax elimination for homeowners. It's one of several possible amendments he's looking at... In order to get the bill passed.
  "The time is right to move this issue ahead. And again, find a better way to fund the public schools than this relic from the 16 and 1700s." noted Senator Argall.

The bill was defeated in 2015 due to a tie-breaking vote by the Lieutenant Governor. Senator Argall says he's looking at a number of amendments to the bill to help turn some previous "no" votes into yes'.


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