Myths vs. Facts
There have been many rumors about Senate Bill 76, please take a moment to read through and get the real facts about this important bill. Download this Myths vs. Facts page as a pdf.
SB 76 prevents school districts from raising revenues on their own.
SB 76 lets local school districts retain the ability to raise revenues through income taxes or other means (except property taxes) and requires voter approval for any new taxes or tax increases they propose.
This bill only helps seniors on fixed incomes.
SB 76 will provide immediate property tax relief to all Pennsylvania homeowners and small businesses who pay school property taxes in Pennsylvania, regardless of age
Public school funds laid out by SB 76 are only “guaranteed” for the first year after the law passes.
There is no such thing as a “guaranteed” level of state funding for any program from year to year. The Pennsylvania Legislature – and only the Legislature - has the power to set the amount of dollars it invests in K-12 education each year. Senate Bill 76 establishes the Education Stabilization Fund, which will collect those dollars raised from increases in the personal income tax and sales tax. Those dollars must be invested in local school districts, in exchange for eliminating school property taxes. Local districts will still have the power to levy taxes of their own, and will have full control over the dollars they receive from the Education Stabilization Fund.
With SB 76 in place, Pennsylvania’s Legislature will have the same responsibility to invest our tax dollars in our public schools as it does now. They will have the ability to invest more dollars into our schools through the Stabilization Fund. And voters will always retain the power to hold their local school boards – and their legislators – accountable for how their tax dollars are spent – or not spent – on public education.
SB 76 is a threat to the local control we want to empower our school districts with.
School districts not only get to keep their authority to levy taxes to fund their school system. School districts receive funds each year through SB 76’s income tax and sales taxes increase that come with no new mandates or strings attached on how to use those dollars. No new mandates on designing curricula or subject matters or testing criteria. No requirements to change current or future collective bargaining agreements between districts and teachers. And no new mandates or limits on how to spend or not spend those dollars year to year.
Local control of local schools is not under assault with SB 76. The only thing that changes is that homeowners will no longer be punished or rendered homeless by out-of-control property taxes. SB 76 accomplishes this long-sought goal while keeping taxing and spending authority in the hands of school districts – and with the taxpayers who live in those districts.
SB 76 prevents school districts from borrowing money to pay for new development or school construction.
School districts retain their authority to sell new bonds or borrow additional funds to finance school construction and other projects. They will simply need to find a way to repay those loans through measures besides property taxes.
The sales tax and PIT are regressive in nature. Increasing them just further hurts our most vulnerable populations. And it is a "renters tax". Homeowners will see relief and renters will be stuck footing the bill.
By eliminating property taxes and replacing the funding with personal income and sales taxes, the burden of unreasonably high property taxes would be lifted from property owners and fairly spread among those who consume and earn the most. Renters will live in properties that will have more stable living costs and can be spared dramatic increases in rent in the coming years. Businesses, especially those that own their own property, will have lower costs that will no longer need to be passed on to consumers, giving them opportunities to reduce prices, put more Pennsylvanians to work, raise worker salaries, or all of the above.
SB 76 eliminates property taxes for commercial and business property owners.
Like residential properties, commercial property owners will still pay property taxes levied by counties, cities, townships and boroughs. All property owners will still be subject to property taxes levied by school districts for the purpose of paying off current debts and bonds.
Harrisburg can't be trusted! That fund will get raided to pay for pet projects or bailing out our cities. How will we pay for education then?
Our legislators have a constitutional obligation to adequately fund a free public education system that is accessible to all Pennsylvanians and their children. If they fail to meet that obligation and misuse our tax dollars, citizens can vote their elected officials out and even file lawsuits to demand adequate school funding. And just as voters can hold their School Board members accountable for failing to care for our public schools, Pennsylvanians can hold their legislators accountable at the ballot box if they attempt to raid the Education Stabilization Fund, in violation of its original purpose as outlined in SB 76.
Increasing the sales tax and the PIT will make Pennsylvania an unattractive place to live.
Even after the sales tax and PIT increases in SB 76, Pennsylvania’s PIT rate and sales tax rate remains competitive with our neighboring states, and even lower than many of our neighboring states like Ohio and New Jersey.
My school district doesn't have a spending problem. Why should I support this?
School boards change, and so do their spending priorities and commitment to protecting taxpayers. With SB 76 in place, not only will voters continue to elect their school boards, but they will have even further oversight of their school boards by having referendum approval of new taxes proposed by their school board.