Property Tax Elimination Bill Threatens Long-term Public School Funding

Sharon Ward |

Property tax elimination proposals have been getting a lot of attention this week, so we took a closer look at two of the most talked-about — House Bill 76 and Senate Bill 76. Both plans pose a serious threat to stable, predictable education funding in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania contributes a smaller share of the cost of educating its students than most states, leaving local taxpayers to contribute more. This makes the resources available to public education highly dependent on local wealth and property taxes burdensome for some individuals.

Restoring the state’s commitment to fund 50% of the cost of public schools would go a long way toward solving both problems — ensuring that students who live in modest and lower-wealth districts get the same high-quality education as their wealthier counterparts, and reducing the pressure on property taxpayers.

The school funding formula adopted by the General Assembly in 2008 began to relieve property tax concerns by providing more state funding to school districts with high property tax rates. Governor Tom Corbett and the General Assembly abandoned that formula in 2011. Cuts of close to $1 billion in state education funding made the problem worse, falling disproportionately on low-wealth and high-tax-effort school districts.

Any policy to address property tax relief must not come at the expense of Pennsylvania’s children or future. A well-educated workforce is critical to the state’s long-term economic growth — and that begins with a high-quality public education system.

Check out our full fact sheet on the property tax bills at the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center’s web site.