PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gov. Tom Wolf was back in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, this time to meet with Pittsburgh School District educators at Roosevelt Elementary School in Carrick.
The governor repeated his call for increased funding for public education and a shift away from property taxes to fund school districts.
“I know you can’t throw money at any problem and hope to get to a good outcome, but you can’t keep taking money away,” noted Wolf. “And our tax system does that with the heavy reliance on the local property tax system.”
Wolf wants to trade lower property taxes for a hike in the sales tax and personal income tax.
Wolf has been holding meetings like this all across Pennsylvania, but his proposals on education means nothing if the Republican-controlled state legislature doesn’t act — and act particularly on his plan for property tax reform.
The governor is optimistic.
“I think there are real signs of hope,” Wolf told KDKA political editor Jon Delano. “This is the first time we’ve had substantive property tax relief legislation in my lifetime.”
Wolf was referring to a Republican property tax reform plan that passed the state House recently on a bi-partisan vote that would cut property taxes by $4.2 billion.
To replace that, the sales tax would be increased from six percent to seven percent and the income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.7 percent.
“It’s not one that I agree with but it is — the elements of it — but I do agree that it is substantive property tax relief. That is what it is proposing. I think that begins a very serious conversation for the first time,” he said.
While Wolf’s plan differs somewhat, Wolf and most lawmakers want to make sure that, once property taxes are cut dramatically, school districts cannot simply raise millage rates in the future.
“Pennsylvanians really want property tax relief,” added the governor.