November 7th Ballot Question: VOTE NO
What can I do?
1. Tell your county Democratic Committee Chair to have "Vote NO on the Property Tax Ballot question" printed on the golden rod. This is a sure fire way to have every voter see the message on election day.
2. Send this flyer out to your mailing list.
3. Arrange to have members of your local group pass out a card at the polls telling folks to vote NO on the ballot question. You can download this image or this one for public distribution.
4. Talk about the ballot question at your next group meeting or hold a happy hour or coffee to get the word out.
Additional materials you can distribute to your group and in your communities can be found at http://bit.ly/2017BallotQ.
Issue: On November 7th, 2017, there will be a ballot question that reads:
Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to permit the General Assembly to enact legislation authorizing local taxing authorities to exclude from taxation up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead property within a local taxing jurisdiction, rather than limit the exclusion to one-half of the median assessed value of all homestead property, which is the existing law? HB 1285 Constitutional Amendment Homestead Exclusion
Did you have trouble understanding that?
You’re not alone. This ballot question is written for someone that has 18 years of education. Even if you have that much education, the legal jargon is overwhelming. Homestead? Seriously? Why didn’t they just say house? There is no doubt that this is a deliberate attempt to confuse Pennsylvanians; that’s considered voter suppression.
So what does this actually mean?
A YES vote would amend the Pennsylvania Constitution, clearing the way for legislators to eliminate property taxes for homeowners. Sounds good in theory, but getting rid of property taxes would strip vital funding from school districts, police, and fire companies. As of right now, the state funds a little over 40% of any given school district’s budget. That leaves local communities to make up for what the State doesn’t provide. Without a way to raise taxes, school districts won’t be able to meet the educational needs of their community. Providing a way for municipalities to eliminate the property tax, without a viable plan for replacing that funding, is irresponsible and short sighted. VOTE NO.
But I pay so much in property taxes (and I don’t even have kids in school). Why should I vote no?
1. Make no mistake, you won’t get out of paying taxes. Since Pennsylvania is 3 billion dollars in debt and is considering robbing special funds just to meet its constitutional budget requirements, we can’t trust that the state government will be able to make up the lost revenue from property taxes. It is more than likely that if property taxes are eliminated in Pennsylvania, the sales tax and the personal income tax will be increased.
2. You won’t get to deduct your real estate tax from you personal income tax anymore. That could mean hardship for many working families.
3. We can address the property tax burden for specific communities without hurting our public schools and service organizations. Property tax relief programs for the elderly and for struggling families are well within the scope of what the PA Assembly can do now via our current system.
So then why hold a referendum in the first place?
1. This is a ploy to get extreme right-wingers and libertarians to the polls on November 7th. They have been holding clandestine Townhalls across the state to get feedback on this plan in inaccessible places and with no advanced notice. Do you remember receiving an invitation? Hmm? Must have gotten lost in the mail.
2. Amending the Pennsylvania Constitution clears the way for dangerous legislation like SB 76 that is being pushed by the corporate lobby to alleviate their tax burden and shift it to us. This amendment alone doesn’t eliminate property taxes. It is part of a long game strategy to defund public schools and fill the pockets of the already wealthy. By voting yes to the amendment you are tacitly agreeing to eliminating property taxes in PA.
3. This is a political stunt so that our legislators can say they voted to eliminate property taxes. The folks in Harrisburg know that most people aren't going to do a deep dive on the legislation that gets passed through the House and Senate. This amendment gives the illusion that our legislators are working towards eliminating property taxes, when in reality, the amendment doesn't really do that.
What can I do to learn more?
Read this description of the amendment on Ballotpedia.
Read this explanationfrom the Committee of Seventy
Read about Property Tax Reform here.