Passion for Property Tax Independence Act is Spreading
By Rep. Jim Cox (R-Berks)
The passion for the Property Tax Independence Act has always been strong here in Berks County. Homeowners here have long recognized the fact that you cannot truly claim to “own” your home if a school district can kick you out of it because you could not afford your tax bill.
For years, our rallying cry has been, “No tax should have the power to leave you homeless.”
Unfortunately, we too often were a minority in our calls to replace this outdated system of taxation. It sometimes seemed like we were the only ones who understood how fundamentally unfair and inherently unjust the school property tax has become.
In the last several years, that trend started to change. What began as a spark in Berks County grew into a fire that spread across the Commonwealth.
When the last legislative session ended in November 2012, the previous version of the Property Tax Independence Act (House Bill 1776) had the support of 70 representatives in the state House.
Less than a year later, the new version (House Bill 76) has nearly 90 co-sponsors as I draft this line. Companion legislation in the state Senate has 22 co-sponsors, up from the 13 in the previous session.
Pennsylvania has 67 counties. In 52 of those counties, at least one state representative or senator has signed on as a co-sponsor to the legislation.
While many issues are partisan in nature, support for the Property Tax Independence Act spans the ideological spectrum. In the House, members of both the Republican and Democrat leadership teams have signed on to the bill.
Most politicians in my position would likely try to take credit for this, but I simply could not try to do so in good conscience. The truth is that I did introduce the bill in the House. However, the real progress has been made primarily at the grassroots level.
I am a single legislator. Beyond introducing the bill, I am limited to casting only one vote in favor of it. If I could get this bill enacted into law by myself, I gladly would have done so years ago.
Instead, a grassroots network of taxpayer groups has sprouted up across the Commonwealth to push for the enactment of this legislation. They have contacted their state legislators and told them in no uncertain terms to support the Property Tax Independence Act. These patriots of Pennsylvania – the men and women who take time out of their busy lives to contact their state legislators about this bill – are the ones who deserve the credit.
It has been my honor to introduce the Property Tax Independence Act in the state House the past two sessions and I promise to keep up the fight in Harrisburg. While my name appears on the top line of the legislation, the names – too many to list or even count – of the taxpayer advocates spread across the Commonwealth who are fighting for this bill are more deserving of the credit.
Grandparents today risk losing their homes due to an inability to pay the school property tax. There will come a day in Pennsylvania when the scourge of school property taxes will be a long-forgotten relic, and grandparents will explain to their grandchildren how they were able to rid the land of it.
That day cannot come soon enough.
Rep. Jim Cox is the prime sponsor of the Property Tax Independence Act, House Bill 76. He currently is serving his fourth term in the state House of Representatives.
Representative Jim Cox
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Daniel Massing
RepJimCox.com / Facebook.com/RepJimCox