Letter to the Editor on Property Taxes
To The Editor:

A recent article in the Mercury asked why I voted against an amendment mirroring House Bill 76, after an extended debate which occurred Tuesday, Oct. 1, on the House floor.

House Bill 76 was originally circulated for co-sponsorship in summary form. Many representatives, myself included, signed on as co-sponsors. However, the debate exposed serious flaws with the amendment.

The prime sponsor for House Bill 76 began the debate by acknowledging that “the bill needs more work …I agree there are problems with this …but we can pass it and then try to fix it.” “Fixing it later” is not the way things should be handled in Harrisburg.

Pennsylvania collects a total of $12 billion in property taxes, $4 billion from businesses and $8 billion from homeowners. The House Bill 76 amendment repealed all property taxes on business and commercial properties, resulting in lost revenue of more than $4 billion. In the amendment, the burden of replacing the lost $4 billion from commercial and industrial sources fell squarely on the backs of individual citizens.

Who benefits more directly from an educated student body than the businesses which hire these students for their stores, offices, and production facilities? Shouldn’t business contribute something to the education of the students they seek to hire?

In the amendment, individuals would see their property taxes abolished (saving $8 billion in required taxes from homeowners) but would then be obligated to make up the entire loss of revenue, all $12 billion. That wouldn’t help our homeowners; it would burden individuals even further with increased taxes on consumer goods, earned income taxes locally, and an increase of more than 40 percent in the statewide personal income tax – not a single business tax was increased!

For these reasons, I voted against the House Bill 76 amendment in its current form. I could not, in good conscience, place our citizens in a $12 billion hole, while businesses (e.g. King of Prussia Mall, Exton Square Mall, all factories and business properties across the state) would have all their property taxes relieved and pay no other tax in exchange. After listening to the debate, 70 percent of the legislature (139 members) voted against the amendment, while only 30 percent (59 members) voted in favor.

Everyone in the legislature wants to help our homeowners and especially our senior citizens, keep their homes and lower their taxes. However, it was evident that House Bill 76 would greatly increase the burden on individuals while giving business and industry a windfall. The floor debate demonstrated the flaws in the House Bill 76 amendment as it was drafted. Now it can be redrafted to address those shortcomings.

I did not feel the House Bill 76 amendment was a viable solution to property tax reform. I will continue to work for fair property tax relief for our senior citizens and all residents of the Commonwealth.

Tim Hennessey
26th Legislative District

Representative Tim Hennessey
26th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Raymond Smith

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