HARRISBURG – Senators Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster) are cohosting a public forum with a key Senate committee to outline and discuss alternative solutions to the existing school property tax system in Pennsylvania.
The local senators are hosting the Senate Majority Policy Committee, chaired by Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks), to conduct the public forum.
“This is easily the biggest issue confronting homeowners across the county,” Martin said. “This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, this is an issue that affects every corner of Lancaster County and something we need to address.”
“We want to bring this discussion to the taxpayers of Lancaster County,” Aument said. “The issue of rising school property taxes continues to dominate the emails, letters and phone calls my office receives on a daily basis. This forum will allow for local residents to hear solutions to the problem and see a bit of the debate we’ve experienced in Harrisburg on this topic.”
Committee Chairman Argall says the issue continues to grow across the state, which is why he’s taking the committee to the people.
“I’m grateful Senators Martin and Aument want to have this important public forum in Lancaster County,” Argall said. “Everywhere I go, people want to talk about their frustration with the current school property tax system. I personally believe there is a better way to fund public education than the current system that was devised in 1834. This forum will allow the public to hear solutions to the problem as well as an opportunity for public comment.”
One major proposal that will be discussed is Senate Bill 76, which would eliminate school property taxes by shifting to an increased Personal Income Tax and an increased and expanded Sales and Use Tax. The proposal is sponsored by Argall in the Senate and was drafted by over 80 grassroots groups across the state. Senate Bill 76 was last considered in the legislature in 2015, when Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack cast the deciding vote against the plan, ending efforts to eliminate school property taxes in Pennsylvania for the time being.
Other proposals that will be discussed include: school property tax freeze for senior citizens, a Constitutional amendment to allow for the total elimination of school property taxes for homeowners only, local options for school districts to either reduce or eliminate school property taxes, as well as property tax reassessment reform.
The forum will feature a presentation by the Pennsylvania Coalition of Taxpayer Associations, the statewide grassroots organization comprised of volunteers who drafted Senate Bill 76. Also invited are the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the National Federation of Independent Business, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, the Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, the Pennsylvania Apartment Association, the Pennsylvania Residential Owners Association and the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau as well as local stakeholders.
The forum will take place at the Pequea Valley High School Auditorium, 4033 E. Newport Road, Kinzers, PA 17535 on Wednesday, August 30. The forum will start at 7 p.m.
The public is invited to attend and there will be a period for questions on school tax reform from local residents.
Jon Hopcraft (Argall)
Terry Trego (Martin)
Jake Smeltz (Aument)