Ballot Question Causes Concern

press release from Lisa Longo

Why are we allowing budgets to be balanced on the backs of children?

Phoenixville, PA, October 10, 2017– Serious questions are being raised about a ballot question approved by the PA Legislature. This question is asking voters to approve an amendment to our State Constitution, potentially reducing or eliminating taxes based on the assessed value of the primary residence of a homeowner. If this ballot question passes, it would force an increase of other local taxes, such as the Earned Income Tax (EIT), causing irreparable harm to the working poor and middle class.

This ballot question, based on legislation drafted by Republican legislators, leaves open the replacement for these taxes which fund both County and local public services as well as public schools. Some of the ideas floated include an increase of sales and income taxes. The potential harm to those on a fixed income including Veterans, disabled and retired taxpayers cannot be ignored. This regressive tax plan, supported by conservative organizations, including anti-tax groups, anti-public school groups, and groups that want to privatize and create for-profit schools, has not been endorsed by a single organization that serves workers, students, Veterans, retired taxpayers, or disabled taxpayers. This becomes a very clear issue of moving the tax burden to those who can least afford it.

“While property tax absolutely needs reform, this is not the way to create a stable funding plan,” explained Lisa Longo, a school board member and education advocate. “I believe we need to discuss a freeze on property taxes for those on a fixed income and limit it to a percentage of income. I would favor a Constitutional Amendment that allows us to have a progressive tax and develop equity funding for school districts but not one that potentially creates harm to both our students and our community.”

Property tax reform is a hot topic in Pennsylvania and many other states; it should be noted that there is no state that has eliminated all property tax to fund schools.

Many Pennsylvania residents question why state funding has decreased. In 2006 the Democratic-controlled legislature started to move to a higher percentage of overall funding from the state, with a goal of 50% total funding. Once Republicans took control of the legislature the trend reversed. Currently the state provides only 35% of the funds needed and local taxes are forced to make up the difference.

The PA State Constitution requires education funding for all students. Why are legislators passing the buck to local authorities who are forced to make up the difference by increasing property taxes? Another community leader asked, “Instead of passing the debt to our children and playing 3 card monte with our children’s future, why won’t the Republican controlled legislature pass a severance tax on Marcellus shale drillers?”

And there are other concerns about tax revenues:

Longo explains, “Corporate tax revenue has decreased at both the State and Federal levels but school districts must still provide mandated services. When the legislature cuts funds to education, it is our children and families that are forced to pay the price. We see a nationwide increase in the number of children attempting suicide and diagnosed with anxiety and depression, as a society, do we want to cut funds from children to give tax cuts to corporations and the wealthiest among us? Who is going to protect our children?”

And others also voiced their concern. Jeremy Winch, Communications Chair of the East Penn Democratic Club, added, “This referendum has the potential to harm our children for years to come by negatively impacting funding for public education in the Commonwealth. Rest assured that, if passed, the resulting shell game will not cut taxes.”

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Lisa Longo at 215-527-9705 or email at