Jul. 19, 2019 / Email Archives

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Weekly Roundup
The latest news from the State Capitol
Hearing Your Feedback on Property Taxes

Thank you to the many constituents who responded to my invitation to provide comment on Rep. Frank Ryan’s proposal to shift school taxes from taxing property to taxing retirement income and increased sales taxes. Needless to say, the reaction to Rep. Ryan’s approach was resoundingly negative. As much as people may dislike property taxes, they don’t like taxes on other things either. I don’t favor Ryan’s legislation, and I suspect that it will not get very far, generally for the reasons which many of you related to me.

The exercise does highlight a salient point in the discussion on property taxes: you can’t eliminate billions of dollars in tax revenue without replacing them with something else. Since the “something else” has to be another tax, people affected by new taxes are understandably less than enthusiastic about the change. The prophets of property tax elimination conceal the fact that what they are really selling is just a tax shift. I am no champion of property taxes, but I have yet to find an alternative which is better.

It is important to note that the state itself does not levy any property taxes – they are levied entirely by local governments and school districts. By referendum, local school districts can already charge income tax in lieu of some of property taxes, but almost none do. School districts also have significant control over their own budgets, federal and state mandates aside. I often find it curious that locally levied property taxes are nearly always an issue in state political races and nearly never an issue in local school board races.

The real answer to concern over rising property taxes is twofold: paying down pension debt and controlling local spending. The state government must come to grips with our $74 billion unfunded pension liability, which is a major expense for local schools. As for local spending, those are decisions which each community and its elected officials must make for itself based on its objectives and priorities.
Dialing in to Telephone Town Hall

I held a telephone town hall Thursday evening to share an update on the state budget and field your questions.

Thank you for a wide variety of thoughtful questions – from those on property taxes to lottery proceeds.

Upcoming, face-to-face town hall meetings are as follows:
  • Expanded Nurse Practice, Thursday, Sept. 12, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Waynesboro Hospital, Board Room, 501 E. Main St., Waynesboro.
  • Universal Preschool, Thursday, Nov. 14, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Cumberland Valley Christian School, 600 Miller St., Chambersburg.
PennDOT’s Schedule for July 22 to 26
  • Surface treatment on Cowans Gap Road in Metal Township.
  • Surface treatment on Pioneer Drive in St. Thomas Township.
  • Safety project on Marsh Road in Washington Township. The road will be closed.
  • Pothole patching on Interstate 81 in Guilford Township. Expect to encounter lane closures.
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1402 E. Main Street, Waynesboro, PA 17268 | Phone: (717) 749-7384
1270 Crottlestown Road, Chambersburg, PA 17202 I Phone: (717) 263-1053
10655 Antrim Church Road, Greencastle, PA 17225 I Phone: (717) 895-3902 
Room 150-B, East Wing, PO Box 202090, Harrisburg PA 17120-2090 | Phone: (717) 783-5218
Email: pschemel@pahousegop.com