House To Approve Property Tax Relief Plan

May 13, 2015

State House lawmakers are expected to take a final vote Wednesday approving a property tax relief plan similar to what Governor Tom Wolf proposed.

Like the governor’s plan, it would seek higher sales and personal income taxes in order to give Pennsylvanians a break on property taxes. The plan would not target extra relief to cities and poor school districts – something Wolf wants to do.   

The measure attracted Democratic leaders, like caucus whip, Rep. Mike Hanna (D-Clinton), and divided the chamber’s Republican majority.

“I am really shocked that we would be proposing a 16 percent increase in state spending on a billion dollar structural state deficit,” said Rep. Bill Adolph (R-Delaware), chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Hard-line supporters of property tax elimination, all of them Republicans, insisted that any tax relief under the plan would be short-lived and easy to overlook after the sales and income tax hikes.

Sponsoring Rep. Stan Saylor (R-York) tried to assuage their concerns, pointing to his bill’s funding for existing property tax relief programs and its aim to slow the rise of property taxes in the future.

“Is it perfect? No. This is a shift, and I don’t know how you do a shift without increasing taxes somewhere else and putting it toward property taxes, or wherever you want to spend it,” Saylor said. “But it’s not just an increase. It’s a shift.”

The governor’s office is calling the vote a “significant step” in ongoing negotiations expected to heat up next month. The measure would head next to the state Senate, whose Republican majority has been focusing on other issues – chiefly, overhauling public pension benefits.