Understanding The Ballot Referendum
In 1997, the Pennsylvania Constitution was amended to allow local taxing authorities - counties, school districts and municipalities - to reduce any homeowner’s property taxes by no more than 50 percent of the median assessed value of all primary residences (the Homestead Exclusion). On Election Day, we will have a chance to potentially raise that figure to 100 percent.

When we go to our polling place on Election Day (Nov. 7), we will be asked to vote on the following question:

“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?”

There have been few ballot referendum questions that have generated more confusion than the one we are facing in November. Some people think we are voting to eliminate property taxes. We are not. What we are considering is the possibility of empowering our local taxing authorities with the ability to reduce or eliminate property taxes.

The referendum question also differs from Senate Bill 76, for which there are many advocates. Senate Bill 76 deals strictly with school property taxes. This question addresses ALL property taxes that are imposed.

If the referendum is approved, the next step involves the General Assembly crafting appropriate legislation to empower local governments. They would then have to decide whether or not to exercise their option to reduce or eliminate property taxes. It is important to note that should a local taxing authority choose elimination, another funding stream would have to be put in place to make up for the lost revenue.

If this referendum is defeated, the fight to eliminate property taxes does not die. I, for one, will continue to support any and all attempts to address this burden we as property owners bear. Likewise, if the referendum passes, proponents of property tax elimination still have some work to do.

What they can do is be happy that their argument has advanced. You’ve no doubt heard property taxes are not a statewide problem. One thing the ballot referendum may do is define how much of a statewide issue they are.

I know this ballot referendum question has generated a great deal of questions. What I hope I have done is educate the voters by laying out the facts for your consideration and decision, in the hope that you will be better able to make an educated decision. If you still have questions, please feel free to contact my district office at (610) 746-2100.

Representative Marcia Hahn
138th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Scott Little
RepHahn.com / Facebook.com/RepHahn

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