Pennsylvania House lawmakers are expected to take a final vote Wednesday approving a property tax relief plan similar to what Gov. Tom Wolf has proposed.
Like the governor’s plan, it would seek higher sales and personal income taxes in order to give Pennsylvanians a break on property taxes. But it would not target extra relief to cities and poor school districts – something Wolf wants to do.
The measure attracted Democratic leaders, including caucus whip Rep. Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, and divided the chamber’s Republican majority.
“I am really shocked that we would be proposing a 16 percent increase in state spending on a billion dollar structural state deficit,” said Rep. Bill Adolph, R-Delaware, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
Hardline supporters of property tax elimination, all of them Republicans, insisted that any tax relief under the plan would be short-lived and easy to overlook after the sales and income tax hikes.
Sponsoring Rep. Stan Saylor, R-York, tried to assuage their concerns, pointing to his bill’s funding for existing property tax-relief programs and its aim to slow the rise of property taxes in the future.
“Is it perfect? No. This is a shift, and I don’t know how you do a shift without increasing taxes somewhere else and putting it toward property taxes, or wherever you want to spend it,” said Saylor. “But it’s not just an increase. It’s a shift.”
The governor’s office is calling the vote a “significant step” in ongoing negotiations expected to heat up next month. The measure would head next to the state Senate, whose Republican majority has been focusing on other issues – chiefly, overhauling public pension benefits.