Legislation to eliminate property taxes cleared a key hurdle on Tuesday.
But it looks like time is going to run out before it reaches the finish line.
The bill, which passed out of the Senate Finance Committee in a 6-5 vote, would replace property taxes with higher state sales and income taxes.
Lancaster County Republican Sen. Mike Brubaker, chair of the committee, supported the legislation and urged his colleagues to back the proposal as well.
“Thousands of hours have been spent on this legislation. It’s time that this bill get an up or down vote,” he said during the committee meeting at the Capitol Tuesday morning.
Senate Bill 76 would increase the state’s personal income tax to 4.34 percent, up from the 3.07 percent rate that has been in place since 2004. It also would raise the state sales tax by 1 percent, to 7 percent, as well as broaden the number of items that are taxed.
David Argall of Schuylkill County, the prime sponsor of the bill, estimates that higher and expanded sales tax will generate about $6 billion and increasing the personal income tax will net about $5 billion. Casino revenue would round out the money needed to eliminate property taxes.
With a record number of supporters, including six state representatives and two senators from Lancaster County, the School Property Tax Elimination Act has wide bipartisan backing.
The bill will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Just nine voting days remain in the 2013-2014 legislative session.
“We’re taking Senate Bill 76 one step at a time,” said Erik Arneson, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi. “Today’s committee vote was the first step. The next step is for the bill to appear on the Senate calendar. At some point, it would need to go to the Senate Appropriations Committee before any Senate vote.”
The Senate version has 25 sponsors. It needs 26 votes to pass. An identical bill before the House has 91 sponsors. It needs 102 votes to pass.
But, before the vote was taken, there were some concerns as to whether the plan really adds up.