State Rep. Aaron Kaufer addresses the elimination of property taxes, education fundingPosted on: March 4, 2016, by : Brock Siegel
First Posted: 9:30 pm – March 3rd, 2016 Updated: 10:26 pm – March 3rd, 2016.
By Geri Gibbons – firstname.lastname@example.org
LUZERNE — More than 150 people gathered on Thursday at the Luzerne Fire Department to hear State Rep. Aaron Kaufer talk about the elimination of property taxes and education funding.
Many attendees were retired homeowners, who said the property taxes put an undue burden on senior citizens.
Kaufer, R-Kingston, drew applause when he talked about the number of homes lost in sheriff sales.
“You’ve seen the list,” he said. “It should not happen.”
Young people, he said, were also challenged by the current school property tax structure.
“People get out of college. There’s not a ton of jobs out there,” he said. “They want to be able to buy their first home and not worry about taxes.”
Kaufer outlined some specifics of Pennsylvania House and Senate Bill 76.
The legislation, he said, would eventually eliminate school property taxes shifting the burden to state sales tax and other taxes, which would result in a more equitable tax burden.
If passed, he said it would increase the state sales tax to 7 percent. Items including newspapers, magazines, laundry services and admission to sporting events would be taxed.
Continuing to be exempt from state sales tax would be fresh meats, produce and dairy products, and packaged or canned foods that are in their natural form.
“If you can’t afford to purchase an item this week, you can wait until next week,” said Kaufer. “But with property taxes, these are people’s homes.”
Kaufer referred to “dynamic economics” in regard to the elimination of property tax, saying the move would drive the economy.
“If this became law, it would also benefit home builders, home developers and construction workers,” he said.
“People who could afford to spend, would be taxed,” he said. “But people who saved money on their property tax would also spend. Perhaps buy a refrigerator or another item that they have been putting off purchasing.”
Should the bill be passed, Kaufer said schools would remain fully funded, receiving those monies directly from the state.
Bob Kennedy, 68, said his understanding was that taxes would be shifted from school property tax to the sales tax, income tax and slot revenues.
Kennedy, of Shavertown, said he came out after reading an editorial letter in the Times Leader in support of continued property taxes, wanting to be part of the dialogue.
Swoyersville Mayor Chris Concert said he learned a lot of the meeting.
“I hear from people all the time that they can’t afford their taxes, and many lose their homes,” he said. “There is no reason people should lose their homes that have been in their families for generations. Its really a sad day when you see that.”
Kaufer said the bill failed as an amendment in the Senate.
It can, he said, be reintroduced as an amendment to a Senate bill and become law.
Reach Geri Gibbons at 570-991-6117 or on Twitter @TLggibbons.