PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
If we want to ensure that students are getting what they need in the classroom and provide property relief to homeowners, the state must fully and fairly fund our schools. Inadequate and inequitable state funding for public schools directly contributes to rising property taxes.
Today, our public schools are overly-reliant on local funding, in large part because the state does not cover its fair share of the state/local funding partnership. Pennsylvania contributes just less than 39% of public schools’ costs to educate students, ranking it 44th in the country in state share. Local taxpayers pick up a much greater share: 55%.
This lack of state investment leads to property taxes that are too high for many communities and leaves many schools without adequate funds. The state must begin paying its fair share so that more state money is driven into the classroom and the burden on property taxpayers can be relieved.
Some measures being considered to reform or “eliminate” property taxes, such as the so-called “Property Tax Independence Act,” will actually make matters worse. This bill would:
- Perpetuate or worsen current school funding inequities that have created a spending gap between wealthy and poor schools in Pennsylvania that is already one of the widest in the country. For example, Pennsylvania’s wealthiest school districts could receive as much as $23,000 more per student from the state, while the poorest could see as little as $1,100.
- Take away local control of public schools and strip school districts of their ability to generate local revenue to meet student needs if state support does not keep up with increased costs.
- Decimate the state’s bipartisan fair school funding formula by making it unworkable and moot.
PA Schools Work believes that property tax reform must:
- Preserve local control and retain the predictability and stability of local revenues.
- Help the taxpayers and school districts that need it most.
- Enable districts to continue to cover changes in the costs of meeting student needs now and into the future.
- Be part of a strategy to secure new equitably-raised recurring state revenues to eliminate the state’s structural deficit and increase the state’s adequate and equitable commitment to major public-school subsidies.