Legislation which would amend the state constitution's provisions regarding property taxes on a primary residence (homestead) passed the House today with the full support of the York County House Republican delegation. Joining House Majority Whip Stan Saylor (R-Red Lion) in voting "yes" were Reps. Keith Gillespie (R-Hellam), Seth Grove (R-Dover), Ron Miller (R-Jacobus), Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg) and Will Tallman (R-Hanover).
The measure, House Bill 2300, would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution in a way that would allow two specific things to occur: It would give local taxing authorities the power to completely exclude homesteads from property taxes (right now they can only exclude 50 percent of the median homestead's assessed value in the taxing jurisdiction), and it would remove the constitutional barrier that prevents the General Assembly from enacting legislation that would provide 100 percent property tax exclusion.
Following the vote on the bill, the members issued this statement:
"Skyrocketing school property taxes are not a new issue for York County residents. Yet, it is a very difficult issue to get any traction on because the state education funding formula doesn't take student population into account, giving school districts with static populations more money than they need, and shortchanging growing school districts, causing them to constantly raise property taxes. Obviously, members in districts with low property taxes are not inclined to vote to change the status quo.
"This constitutional amendment would allow the Legislature to simply pass a law exempting homesteads from property taxes, bypassing the distracting debate on the state's subsidization of low property taxes for certain school districts.
"When residents in York County are coming to our offices to explain they are using their retirement to figure out when to sell their house before they lose it and all their savings due to property taxes instead of taking trips and enjoying their golden years, it is time for action. We are hopeful the Senate will see this strong vote as a sign it is time to pass this bill and put the decision in the hands of the voters."
To amend the state constitution, the same bill containing the amendment must be debated and passed in two consecutive sessions, and then approved by referendum vote by the people of Pennsylvania. The governor's signature is not required.