HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A proposal to replace school property taxes in Pennsylvania with higher income and sales taxes was soundly rejected Tuesday in the House of Representatives.
The Republican-controlled House shot down the measure 138-59 after about three hours of debate in which conservative stalwarts sought to rally their allies.
This vote "may very well be our last chance to cast a vote anywhere near property tax elimination," argued the sponsor, Rep. Jim Cox, R-Berks. "If this issue is important to you ... I ask you to stick with me."
"The time has come to put up or shut up," said Rep. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill. "We're gonna sort out the phonies."
Opponents said the amendment was riddled with legal flaws and amounted to little more than "a concept." They called the measure ill-conceived and warned that the resulting increases in statewide taxes would unfairly penalize working Pennsylvanians.
"These taxes will fall most harshly on working Pennsylvanians," said Rep. Bryan Barbin, D-Cambria.
The proposal was in the form of an amendment to an underlying bill that would allow individual school districts to enact a proposed "elimination tax" to generate revenue in place of rising property taxes many lawmakers say are driving Pennsylvanians out of their homes.
Among other things, it would have increased the personal income tax by 41 percent and boosted the state sales tax to 7 percent, an increase of nearly 17 percent. It also would have eliminated many existing sales-tax exemptions.
The House is expected to consider additional property-tax legislation Wednesday.