Government union leaders like to claim mythical state education funding cuts caused widespread school property tax increases. But new data shows fewer school districts are actually receiving exceptions to raise taxes without voter approval.
In 2011, the General Assembly passed Act 1 reducing the number of exceptions to the school tax referendum requirement. In other words, they made it harder for districts to avoid placing a property tax increase on the ballot, thereby giving local residents a bigger voice in any large tax increase.
For four years straight the number of requested exceptions has declined—even as the “index” has remained around 2 percent, thanks to low inflation. This trend indicates that the law is working, and that districts aren’t raising taxes as much as they had been.
Even the overall rate of school property tax growth is declining. In 2011-12, the rate of growth was 2.9 percent and in 2012-13 property taxes grew by 1.9 percent. Those are record lows minus the year of “relief” from gambling proceeds.
|Act 1 Referendum Exemptions Granted by Pa. Dept. of Education
|Exemption Amount Approved (millions)||$143.2||$84.9||$192.4||$265.8||$159.9||$121.7||$121.1|
|Exemption Amount Used (millions)||$41.1||$13.1||$67.6||$95.5||$48.2||$30.5|
|Source: PA Department of Education|