McKeesport-based state senator seeks new way to pay for schools
By Patrick Cloonan
Published: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 4:36 a.m.
State Sen. James Brewster is in the forefront of a renewed effort to eliminate property taxes as a way to pay for public schools.
“The property tax is a big issue,” Brewster, a Democrat from McKeesport, said on Thursday during a tour of the W.D. Mansfield Memorial Bridge rehabilitation project. “It is compounded by the assessment in Allegheny County.”
Brewster, minority chairman of the Senate Urban Affairs & Housing Committee, joined majority chairman Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill County, in supporting Senate Bill 76.
That legislation and state House Bill 76 were referred to the finance committees of their respective chambers on March 14. No action has been taken by either panel.
Both bills allow for:
• School districts to give voters the choice of a personal income tax or an earned income tax.
• A 1.27 percent state tax on personal income that would go toward an Education Stabilization Fund.
• A hike in the sales tax from 6 to 7 percent (7 to 8 in Allegheny and Philadelphia counties).
“It is tax revenue neutral,” according to the Pennsylvania Taxpayers Cyber Coalition, an organization dedicated to equitable tax funding of Pennsylvania schools.
The coalition is a self-styled virtual community of thousands of taxpayers from throughout the state who are concerned with school property tax and education finance reform.
“We heard plenty of individuals testify about the need for local tax reform during our hearings on the future of cities,” Brewster said on Aug. 20, when he announced he would renew efforts to pass the Senate bill.
“We have been making tremendous strides toward building legislative support from every corner of the state, including the southwest,” said Argall, who introduced similar legislation in the the General Assembly's 2011-12 session, which had 13 co-sponsors.
This year Argall has 22 co-sponsors, including Brewster, Democrat Timothy Solobay of Canonsburg, and Republican Kim Ward of Hempfield Township.
The House bill was introduced by Rep. James Cox, R-Berks County, with 92 co-sponsors, including Democrats Marc Gergely of White Oak and Bill Kortz of Dravosburg, and Republican Rick Saccone of Elizabeth Township.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 73-home subdivision plan approved for Westwood Golf Club
- Dravosburg residents try to save PNC Bank from closing
- Mon Valley communities plan cleanup day activities
- U.S. Steel presents tuition scholarship money for Catholic education
- Forward supervisors, residents seek township road improvements
- Carnegie Library of Homestead spotlighted in CNN iReport
- Indiana company gets OK to sell former West Mifflin municipal building
- Homestead funeral director convicted of 3rd-degree murder
- 2 shot outside McKeesport convenience store
- Parole denied for man convicted in 1997 slaying of 14-month-old
- Forward officials announce furniture sale