BLOG: Skyrocketing Property Taxes Are Due to a Lack of Education Funding
By: Jeff Sheridan, Governor Wolf Press Secretary
February 25, 2016
Massive cuts at the state level and a lack of real investment in education is not only hurting school districts across Pennsylvania, but also having a devastating impact on middle-class families and seniors who can no longer afford to pay for the Republican property tax increases that have been passed down to local communities over the past several years.
That is why Governor Wolf has been fighting since day one to secure historic increases in education funding at all levels, including K through 12 education.
During his budget address, Governor Wolf said: “In the last year alone, 83 school districts increased property taxes above the index because Harrisburg didn’t produce a responsible budget… [and] another 175 school districts are contemplating additional tax increases this year – for the same reason…”
The Post-Gazette last week rated this “mostly true” and the head of the Education Policy and Leadership Center said of Governor Wolf’s speech, “[The] overall message was absolutely correct.”
After years of reckless Republican budgets that drastically cut education, were unbalanced, and created a multi-billion dollar deficit, school districts were forced to raise property taxes on hardworking middle-class families and seniors. And without the governor’s proposed historic investment in education, districts that are still reeling will once again be forced to raise property taxes even higher to make up for the state’s lack of investment.
Despite this reality, some in the Republican Party argue that property tax increases are a result of pensions. However, this claim is categorically untrue.
In fact, there is no form of pension reform that will provide the state or any district immediate budget relief after years of underfunding the system, which resulted in tens of billions of dollars of debt.
This also ignores the reality of what happened when the previous governor and the Republican-controlled legislature made devastating cuts to education totaling $1 billion.
After Governor Corbett was inaugurated in 2011, schools began to plan for the coming 2011-12 school year, not anticipating there would be massive budget cuts.
Governor Corbett’s budget cuts passed in late June of 2011 – after many schools had passed their 2011 budgets.
For the 2012 school year, they had to account for the new appropriations and cuts to education.
These were cuts directly to classrooms, charter school reimbursements, and the educational assistance program. Devastating funding cuts were made to basic education funding and Accountability Block Grants – all of which went into the classroom.
To make up for those cuts, districts had three options: cut programs, layoff educators, or increase property taxes. Given the Republican refusal to compromise with the governor’s proposal that would fix the deficit and increase funding to education, school districts are once again facing huge cuts and they will have no choice but to raise property taxes even higher.
The Republican tax plan would quite simply result in billions of dollars in property tax hikes.
Read more posts about Governor Wolf’s 2016-17 budget.
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