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Rendell: Act 72 may become mandatory

| Monday, May 2, 2005

GRANTVILLE -- Gov. Ed Rendell ratcheted up the pressure on school boards to sign on to a $1 billion property-tax reduction program, saying state lawmakers might otherwise make the program mandatory.

School boards, which have until the end of May to opt in, have been slow to participate. In exchange for the future slots revenues, they must raise local income taxes and seek voter approval for future property-tax increases that exceed inflation.

"We may mandate it, there's so much anger in the Legislature. We may mandate it without some of the exceptions that are worked in, and that would be a disaster," Rendell said Saturday at a meeting of the Pennsylvania Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

Rendell said he had heard that Democratic legislators will introduce a bill today that would force school boards to participate in Act 72.

"Obviously, I think something has to be done," Rendell said. "What is most vexing and frustrating to me is I am in favor of some limitations."

As of Thursday, only 10 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts had chosen to participate in the program, a Pennsylvania School Board Association spokesman said.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court is reviewing a challenge to the act that alleges that lawmakers violated their own rules in passing the slots law last year.

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