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Guest view II

Thursday, January 25, 2018 by The Press in Opinion

School property tax elimination act progresses

I want to provide constituents of the 40th Senatorial District with the latest update regarding the school property tax elimination fight in Harrisburg and what to expect in the near future.

Citizens across the commonwealth voted Nov. 7, 2017, to support the expansion of the state’s existing Homestead Exclusion program, allowing for up to 100 percent elimination of school property taxes on owner-occupied homes.

Passage of the referendum was the first step in providing this critical elimination.

We now need legislation that provides the revenue for residential school property tax elimination.

I have been working since before the referendum vote with Senate leadership and the Independent Fiscal Office to develop a bill that will provide 100-percent elimination of school property taxes on owner-occupied homes through an increase in the state personal income tax.

My bill does not increase the state sales tax.

While I hoped my proposal would be ready mid-December 2017, we are continuing to verify and finalize the revenue estimates from an increased state income tax to ensure there are no weaknesses in the bill.

We have very few opportunities to “get this right,” so we must make sure the bill is sound. In the meantime, I have distributed a cosponsorship memo to my colleagues to gain their support for the proposal.

After discussions with state Sen. Dave Argall, the prime sponsor of the Property Tax Independence Act, I agreed to hold off introduction of the legislation until members of the Senate were polled regarding their support of various elimination proposals.

Because of the limited session days in January, I plan to officially introduce my bill at the end of this month and hold a press conference at the Capitol.

School property tax elimination remains my number one priority, and it is my hope that elimination of school property taxes on owner-occupied homes relieves the pain of those on fixed income and moves us toward full elimination proposed under Senate Bill 76, the Property Tax Independence Act.

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Editor’s note: Mario Scavello is state senator for the 40th Senatorial District, which includes parts of Monroe and Northampton counties.