HARRISBURG - A ranking House Republican said Wednesday that party leaders were ready to put to a vote a hotly debated property-tax-relief proposal, shifting the spotlight to an issue certain to become a key point in this year's budget talks.
Majority Leader Dave Reed of Indiana County said he intended to call the GOP-sponsored plan for a floor vote next week, despite not knowing whether it had the support to pass the chamber - or even enough to win a majority among his own party.
"This is not a partisan issue," Reed told reporters. "It's not going to be just a straight party-line vote."
He added: "This discussion is core to getting a budget done. We need to find out whether we can move forward with this or not."
The GOP plan, championed by Rep. Stan Saylor of York County, calls for hiking the sales and personal-income tax and using that money to reduce property taxes, shifting the school-funding burden off homeowners.
In that respect, it is similar to Gov. Wolf's property-tax-relief plan, a cornerstone of the administration's nearly $30 billion budget proposal. But the Democratic governor's plan differs in key ways, chief among them how the money would be distributed to school districts.
Wolf wants to increase the personal-income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent to raise $2.3 billion. He would also hike the sales tax from 6 percent to 6.6 percent, and extend it to more goods and services, to raise $1.5 billion. (Philadelphia's 8 percent sales tax would remain unchanged.)
Much of the money raised would be used to provide $3.8 billion in property-tax relief statewide.
Saylor's proposal would funnel $2.7 billion in income-tax money to school boards to reduce the millage rates on which property taxes were based, and would divert $1.6 billion in sales-tax money to expand the existing "homestead" program to provide property-tax cuts for homeowners and businesses.
Wolf's plan would distribute money to provide more help first to the poorest school districts, while Saylor was holding out his plan as doling out money more equitably across the state.
Saylor has said his plan, estimated to generate $4.9 billion, would funnel all new revenue toward property-tax relief rather than for other spending.
Looking ahead to next week's debate, Reed predicted: "It will be the beginning of a negotiation, not the end."