Plan would hike Pa. sales and income taxes, end property tax
Gains votes in Harrisburg
There's bipartisan support in the Pa. Senate and House for a proposal to ban the local property taxes that Pennsylvanians pay to support public schools, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports here.
Sen. Scott Wagner, R-York, the waste-disposal magnate and backer of conservative causes who recently won a special election over a mainstream-Republican-endorsed candidate, is leading the charge, backed by members of both parties who note the property tax is:
1) unpopular, especially among the non-working older homeowners who form an unusually large part of Pennsylvania's voting population;
2) more favorable for rich suburban and commercial areas, and penalizes poor rural, urban and residential districts;
3) rises, historically, a lot faster than Pennsylvania incomes.
Opponents, including the state Chamber of Commerce, note property taxes are:
1) easier to collect than income or property taxes;
2) a lot steadier source of income when the economy slows, than sales or income taxes, which tend to fall when they are most needed, forcing budget cuts or additional tax hikes;
3) a lot harder to escape: Higher sales taxes in Philadelphia's southern suburbs, for example, can be avoided by shopping in tax-free Delaware.