TESD Encourages Resident Involvement in Opposing School Property Tax Elimination
At the January 23, 2017 School Board meeting, the Tredyffrin/Easttown School Board adopted a resolution opposing legislation that would eliminate school property taxes. This proposal is currently being considered by state legislators and, if passed, has the potential to leave schools dramatically underfunded by eliminating school property taxes and replacing them with increases in personal income tax and sales tax, which are subject to shortfalls during economic downturns.
Education advocates are indicating that the legislative proposal will resemble Senate Bill 76, which failed in the Pennsylvania Senate by one vote in November 2015. Below is a summary of key components of Senate Bill 76:
School districts will be prohibited from levying a property tax except to pay for existing debt. County government and local municipalities will be able to levy a property tax but school districts will no longer be able to do so.
The statewide Personal Income Tax would increase from 3.07% to 4.95%.
Statewide sales and use tax would increase from 6% to 7% and the list of items and services to which the tax would apply would expand (such as legal services and mental health services) as well as items such as most food and clothing.
Revenues generated from these tax increases would be allocated to individual districts based on current levels.
The shift from the property tax to the income tax and sales tax will have a harmful effect on the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. Many of our District’s top quality programs result from careful planning and funding at the local level with a strategic focus on providing our students what they need to succeed in tomorrow’s world. This legislation will strip TESD of the ability to function independently, effectively making local authorities dependent upon Harrisburg. Funding will flow through the state, eliminating financial discretion for local districts. High quality programs that exceed state mandates and minimum standards require funding currently provided locally. TESD will experience numerous and severe consequences if this plan is enacted, including the following:
Local control of education funding shifts to the State. A local district would be prohibited from raising local funds to run student programs.
The State budget would dictate the District's budget, and school finances may be imperiled by state-level political disputes.
Except for taxes to pay for existing debt, the majority of businesses would pay nothing to support the schools, shifting the entire burden to individuals.
The proposal prohibits school districts from incurring new debt without a referendum, which would threaten the District's ability to maintain and repair schools.
Delays in receiving funds from the State or insufficient allocation of school funds may cause dramatic cuts to student programs and staff.
Existing inequities among school districts would be fixed into the new system and carried forward.
Contact Your Legislators
Tell the Governor and your State Legislators to oppose school property tax elimination. The District encourages interested parents and community members to send correspondence to legislators, whose contact information is available below. At the request of community members, a sample letter opposing the elimination of school property taxes is provided. Community members are invited to send their own letters or to modify the sample letter if preferred. Community members are invited to send their own letters or to modify the sample letter if preferred.
Governor Tom Wolf's Office (D)
225 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120