Advocacy

At a recent school board meeting, the Salisbury Township School Board approved the following resolution:

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania public school districts provide countless academic and extracurricular opportunities for learning and growth of all students, preparing them for higher education and careers; and districts have continued to make steady gains in academic achievement, with Pennsylvania students consistently ranked in or near the top 10 nationally on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exams for reading and math; and Pennsylvania public schools have been recognized as national leaders in providing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education programs; and

WHEREAS, Pennsylvania also maintains a greater public high school graduation rate and a larger percentage of students moving on to higher education than the national average; and

WHEREAS, more than 80% of Pennsylvania public education students enrolled in career and technical centers or programs are achieving at the competent or advanced level on industry-based skills assessments, enabling them to earn credentials leading to meaningful employment or college credit equivalencies at cooperating institutions; and

WHEREAS, public schools ensure that each student with a disability receives a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in compliance with federal and state law and regulations, with students and their families having the benefits of a system of procedural safeguards; and

WHEREAS, Education Savings Account (ESA) voucher programs such as those under Senate Bill 2 undermine Pennsylvania’s responsibility to ensure every student in every community has equal access to public education; and schools targeted under Senate Bill 2 are already in under-resourced districts; and state money for ESAs would be deducted, on a per-student basis, from a school district’s basic education subsidy; and not only would school districts’ state aid be sent to unaccountable private schools, but such money could also be diverted to higher education, tutoring services and other “qualified education expenses,” not even ensuring students receive full-time educational instruction; and

WHEREAS, the voucher program in Senate Bill 2 benefits families regardless of income or need, including students already enrolled in private schools or never having attended a targeted public school; and voucher systems in other states have been shown to be vulnerable to financial fraud and abuse; and

WHEREAS, unlike private schools, public school districts accept, educate and protect the rights of all children who come to their doors, as opposed to those institutions that can reject applicants based on any number of factors and are not required to uphold the rights of students with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, public schools are held to strict accountability standards that measure student achievement and academic progress, unlike private schools which are not required to use the same standard assessments and reporting requirements as public schools; and provisions under Senate Bill 2 would not require participating private schools to use the same standardized assessments, making comparison and evaluation of academic progress unachievable; and

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Salisbury Township School District opposes Senate Bill 2 and any other legislation or any effort by the General Assembly to implement tuition vouchers or any other program that would have an effect of a tuition voucher program, and conveys the importance of supporting and improving the quality of all public schools in the Commonwealth.

Adopted this 7th day of February, 2018.

November Ballot Question: Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Property Taxes

by Randy Ziegenfuss and Lynn Fuini-Hetten on September 28, 2017

In the upcoming November 7 general election, taxpayers around the Commonwealth will be asked to consider amending the PA Constitution, providing the General Assembly the ability to alter tax policy. For more on this important general election question, please see the information below from the Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

This November 7, voters across Pennsylvania will be asked to consider a proposed amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution regarding property tax reductions so is useful for people that want to sell their property later with the help of sites as https://www.eddieyan.ca/. It is important to understand what the question that will appear on the ballot means, and what the impact will be for taxpayers and taxing bodies, including our public schools.

What is the proposed constitutional amendment that will appear on the ballot?

The question on the ballot will ask voters if the state constitution should be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation allowing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100% of the assessed value of each homestead property within a taxing jurisdiction.

What is a homestead property exclusion?

A homestead exclusion lowers a property owner’s tax bill by reducing the assessed value of the home before property taxes are levied. For example, if a home is assessed at $50,000 and the homestead exclusion is $5,000, then the homeowner only pays taxes on an assessed value of $45,000.

What does the ballot question mean, and how is the proposed change different from what is permitted now?

The state constitution was amended in 1997 to allow up to one-half (50%) of the median assessed value of all homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction. The question now before voters is to allow current law to be expanded to raise the cap from 50% to a maximum of 100%.

What impact would this change have on my property taxes? Does this mean my property taxes will be eliminated?

Voter approval of the ballot question would not eliminate property taxes, or have any immediate impact on your property tax bill. The amendment to the constitution cannot by itself impact your tax bill, or direct your local school board to make changes in setting tax rates. It simply allows the General Assembly to adopt legislation in the future expanding current law regarding homestead exemptions. Changes can be provided only if enabling legislation is signed into law, and if the state can provide revenue to fund the increased homestead exclusion. It is important to keep in mind that as a practical matter, even with legislative authorization, homestead exclusions are only possible if there is some source of new revenue to fund them.

What actions should school boards take if the ballot question is approved by the voters?

Until new legislation would be enacted, school boards have no actions that they must take. The ballot question does not interfere with a school board’s authority to levy property taxes or raise tax rates.

Another key point to understand is that the ballot question is separate and distinct from proposed legislation that would prohibit the levying of property taxes for primary residences and businesses. They are two very different things. The most that can be said at this point is that by expanding the constitutional limits on exclusions, the General Assembly could adopt legislation to provide additional options for property tax relief for residential property owners, likely with shifts in other tax and revenue sources to help fund the exclusions and replace the revenue needed for educational programs. On related article, if you want to make loan, checkout https://www.unsecuredloans4u.co.uk/guaranteed-loans/.