Some Pennsylvanians consider property taxes a form of tyranny from which they must be liberated, and on Monday they'll metaphorically throw some tea into the harbor.
Supporters of the aptly named House Bill 1776, the Property Tax Independence Act, will gather at the State Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg to rally for the legislation.
Along with Senate Bill 1400, the legislation would abolish property taxes and fund public schools with increases in personal income and sales taxes. The state's personal income tax would increase from 3.07 percent to 4 percent.
The sales and use tax would increase from 6 percent to 7 percent and be expanded to cover dozens of currently excluded items.
State Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks County, who introduced the legislation, said a homeowner with a $5,000 property tax bill would need to spend more than $70,000 on previously exempted items "before he or she would see any form of tax increase."
Busload: The York 912 Patriots, the local arm of the tea party, has chartered a 47-seat bus for the event, said Lee Ann Burkholder, communications director.
"This issue has broad appeal," she said. "Anyone who owns a property understands we're basically just renting it from the state because of the property taxes."
She said property tax reform is a top concern
among the conservative group's members.
Burkholder, who lives in Northern York School District, said she homeschools her two children but spends thousands on public education each year.
"I pay for the education of others before I can fund my kids' education," she said. "They're 12 and 13, and they've never been in public schools. It's like a double whammy, but you have to pay property taxes or lose your home."
She said she supports Cox's proposal over recent legislation written by Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover, because Grove's plan calls for only a "property tax shift."
People who are interested in a $10 bus seat can visit www.york912patriots.com.
Co-sponsors: The state House's entire York County delegation signed on as co-sponsors to 1776, except for Reps. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, and Eugene DePasquale, D-York City.
DePasquale said he supports the principle of the bill, but doesn't commit support for legislation until it leaves committee and enters the House floor. The bill is in the House Finance Committee, and it could change considerably before it comes up for vote, he said.
He said he would also want to see math that affirms the revenue side of the bill would work, but he supports finding a different way to fund education and thinks it would be beneficial to school districts such as York City's.
While HB 1776 would shift taxes statewide, Grove's legislation gives voters in each county the chance to go to referendum to vote on how they want to be taxed.
Grove said the concept of statewide property tax abolishment has been floated for more than a decade, but it always fell short of the 102 votes needed to pass because some slower-growing parts of the state -- unlike York -- benefit from the current arrangement.
"I think the high-water mark was 70 votes in favor," he said. "I just don't think the votes are there to get it done. ... That's why I developed an alternative."
Grove's bill would reduce property tax bills by giving counties and municipalities the option to swap property taxes for a sales and use and personal income or earned income tax.
He said it's ironic the tea partiers like 1776, when "it does the same thing Obamacare (health care reform) does." It makes government bigger and takes away local control, he said.
Grove's bill passed through the House Finance Committee and is awaiting a vote before the full House.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at 505-5436, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter at @YDYorkCounty.