Pa. Schools Spike Taxes Without Vote To Preserve Pensions

avatar

Schools across the state of Pennsylvania are being hit with a major pensions shortfall. Taking the hit are taxpayers, who are being forced to foot the bill with tax increases —  that they aren’t allowed to vote on.

As originally reported Thursday at Watchdog.org, a loophole is allowing school districts to evade a 2006 state law designed to prevent runaway increases in property taxes. According to the Taxpayer Relief Act, any property tax increase that goes too far above an inflation-indexed cap must be put in front of voters.

However, the law allows the Pennsylvania Department of Education to grant waivers allowing districts to raise taxes without a vote if the money is needed to pay for debt from school construction, high special education costs, or employee pensions.

Out of 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 164 have received waivers allowing them to raise property taxes above the limit without a vote. In 163 of those districts, rising employee pensions were the stated justification for tax increases.

According to the Times Leader, a paper serving Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the state’s pension shortfall is the fourth-worst in the country, with the 2013 total reaching nearly $20 billion. The state is paying the price for past largesse.

In 2001, the state increased teacher pensions by 25 percent based on optimism about the pension fund’s rate of return that was, it turned out, unwarranted. Now, to support the generous pensions, school districts are having to put up more and more money, with their share of contributions rising from about 12 percent to 17 percent or more.

The school district’s workaround has allowed property tax growth to nearly double income growth in the state. School property taxes have risen 146 percent since 1993, while wages in Pennsylvania have risen by only 80 percent.

The median Pennsylvania teacher makes about $60,000, more than the median Pennsylvanian, and their pensions mean their retirement incomes are higher as well.

Follow Blake on Twitter


Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

BarbWire Books is pleased to announce

Hating Jesus: The American Left's War on Christianity

Matt Barber with Paul Hair

The secular left doesn’t merely have a disagreement with Christianity. These are not people with whom one may reason, compromise or even disagree. They are dedicated to evil. They demand nothing less than the abolition of the biblical worldview, and the destruction of Christ’s followers right along with it.

Now is the time to fight back. If you are someone, Christian or not, who refuses to see Christianity wiped out (like it ever could be) and your children indoctrinated into pure evil, then sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option.

BUY BOOKBUY DIGITAL


Posting Policy

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse. Read More

STAY IN THE LOOP
Don't miss a thing. Sign up for our email newsletter to become a BarbWire insider.

Send this to friend