Has Gambling Reduced Property Taxes?

In a press conference last week, Gov. Rendell patted himself on the back for all the property tax relief he has provided via gambling. 

But John Delano of KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh challenges this notion in a new video, noting that most folks are not seeing property tax relief.  That is because, while gambling is providing about $600 million in relief, property tax increases have matched this level of relief (and since gambling was passed in 2004, property taxes have increased by an estimated $3 billion, far exceeding the level of relief).

The Allegheny Institute points out how the second major aspect of Act 1 – the “back-end referendum” –  has also failed.  As they note, school districts are given a perverse incentive to raise property taxes to the index (the cap over which they would have to seek voter referendum – 4.1% and higher for districts this year) every year, and that when districts want to exceed that thresholds, they can usually get an exemption from the state.  In practice, voters have rarely had any say in local property tax increases.