PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed trade off — lower property taxes, but higher income and sales taxes — is getting mixed reaction.
An expert who crunched the numbers says everyone should pay close attention to the details.
The idea of lowering property taxes by 50 percent has big support.
“I hear it every day from residents. Why is the property tax so high?” said Joe Kleppick, the Democratic Chairman of East McKeesport. “My mom especially wants to move out of Allegheny County because of the property tax.”
But the idea of paying more income tax and more sales tax to pay for it – especially in Allegheny County, which already tacks on an extra one percent to the sales tax – not so much.
“I don’t own property, so I’d rather have a lesser sales tax and income tax than a property tax,” said Bill Nagy, of Bellevue.
“What about people who don’t own property and aren’t going to benefit from that? Really they’re kind of taking away from the people that don’t have anything and giving it to people who already have something,” said Jacob Doerr, of Kennedy Township.
“Being a homeowner, I’m one of those people who kind of go with the flow, but if it makes sense and everyone benefits, then I’m for it,” said Theresa Bradley, of Brookline.
Experts at the Allegheny Institute, though, say property tax relief would affect school taxes not county and municipal taxes.
“It’s going to vary,” said Eric Montarti, of Allegheny Institute. “We have a lot of districts right now that are very property tax poor that probably would get more money. We have districts that are very property tax rich that might not see as much. Then, you have to balance against how much more am I paying on my income tax and how much am I paying when I pay sales tax. Again, that’s a largely hidden tax because it’s collected by the retailer to know whether you’re coming out ahead or not on this deal.”
The governor says his plan would reduce the total tax burden on average middle class homeowners by 13 percent – that is if his plan is adopted.
Superintendent Dr. Linda Lane, of Pittsburgh Public School, released a statement on the budget proposal.
“We are pleased with the Governor’s proposal, which restores funding to the District’s accountability block grant, education assistance program and charter school reimbursement as well as increases our special education funding,” said Dr. Lane. “We are also encouraged by the proposed reforms for cyber charter funding.
“We additionally appreciate that the Governor’s proposal places value on Early Childhood Education, which aligns to milestones in our Whole Child, Whole Community plan that prioritizes kindergarten readiness and third grade reading. We equally appreciate the proposed boost to Career and Technical Education programs which aligns to our fourth milestone of Promise, College and Career Readiness.”