Gov. Ed Rendell and members of the General Assembly who voted for property tax "reform" must be fans of the Food Network. They cooked the taxpayers' goose with a special blend of herbs and hallucinogens that grow only on the banks of the Susquehanna.
The key feature is using slots revenue to provide a few more dollars of tax relief for low- and moderate-income senior citizens and some cuts for other homeowners. School district voters also may substitute wage taxes for property taxes. In addition, the measure provides for a referendum that allegedly gives voters control over school-tax increases but, in fact, has gaping loopholes.
By one estimate the property tax statewide has increased $2 billion since Rendell took office. Yet, Fast Eddie hailed the $1 billion bill as the largest property tax cut in state history. In fact, he beguiles voters in an election year from appreciating that nothing was done to permanently lighten the tax load on homeowners.
Here's what Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, had to say:
"In addition to not removing the ever-increasing burden of school property taxes, it contains absolutely no essential taxpayer protections to keep school districts from spending even more than before."
For 30 years we have waited for firm caps on school taxes -- an essential precondition of local tax reform. Unless voters sterilize Harrisburg of the tax-and-spendaholics, expect to wait forever.