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Lititz, PA 17543
Phone:  (717) 626-1776
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smentzer@pahousegop.com

Moving Forward on Property Taxes
12/19/2017
By Rep. Steve Mentzer (R-Lititz)
On Nov. 6, the people of Pennsylvania spoke loudly and clearly to advance the issue of protecting their homesteads and farmsteads from school property taxes.

It took a lot of effort to get an amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution on the ballot raising the homestead/farmstead property tax exclusion to 100 percent, and 56 out of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties voted “yes!”

It has been said that the reason property tax elimination had difficulty passing the House and the Senate was because a majority of the state has no issue with school property taxes.

But the final vote tally seems to say otherwise.

There were only 11 “No” counties in the entire state, that is 16 percent of the counties in the state. In the losing counties, the average of “yes” votes was 45 percent – Clarion was lost by only 29 votes, while in Philadelphia, the worst performing “no” county, the “yes” votes totaled 39 percent.

In over half of all the counties, 60 percent or more of the people voted yes.

I’d say that is a pretty strong showing of folks in Pennsylvania who want to protect their homesteads and farmsteads.

So, what is the next step?

The General Assembly must now pass enabling legislation that will permit taxing authorities to provide up to 100 percent exclusion on property taxes. This has happened before. A constitutional amendment passed in 1997. This was designed to allow local taxing authorities counties, municipalities, and school districts – to exempt up to 50 percent of the median value of all homesteads within their jurisdictions from taxes. After that amendment was approved by the voters, the General Assembly responded with enabling legislation. I see no reason that will not happen this time.

Now, enabling legislation could be a number of different things. It could be a bill such as House Bill 76 that would apply only to homesteads and farmsteads (since that is all the constitutional amendment applies to). Or, it could be a local option, where each school district and its voters can decide if they wish to change the way their schools are funded.

The point is, there will be a unique opportunity to get a straight up or down vote on an issue that has concerning many Pennsylvanians for decades.
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