A proposal called The Property Tax Independence Act will be re-introduced in the Senate, that would eliminate property taxes and shift a significant burden of funding public schools onto other taxing mechanisms, including higher personal income taxes as well as a higher sales tax with an expanded base of what goods and services are subject to tax. The proposal also includes a referendum component. Similar legislation was considered in the 2015-16 legislative session and was narrowly defeated in the Senate.
The plan is being touted as a victory for homeowners and a better way of funding public education, but the truth is that it is not a panacea for taxpayers or school districts. Instead, the elimination of the property tax merely serves to create additional, higher tax burdens for other taxpayers and destabilize funding for public education. While PSBA supports the concept of diversifying the local tax base to reduce the burden of property taxes on local property taxpayers, the association does not support the total elimination of school property taxes as proposed under this plan.
Under the Property Tax Independence Act, school districts will be forced into a system that lacks financial equity and predictability, and robs them of local control. If mandated costs rise significantly, insufficient state funding is provided to school districts, or if revenues decline due to the unexpected economic forces, school districts will have no safety valve to generate additional revenue to meet their obligations, forcing school districts to make cuts to educational programs or face state takeover as financially distressed districts.
The current property tax system provides a stable foundation for local communities to use as needed to support their schools. School boards need to be able to use a mix of local taxes to fulfill their duty to provide quality educational programs and services for all of their students.
Article from www.psba.org.
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