Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Letter to the Editor: Reed's school tax plan too little, too late

on August 01, 2014 10:40 AM

My name is Kevin Freeberg, and I’m running for Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives in the 62nd District against Dave Reed. I’ve taught in the Indiana Area School District for 34 years.

My opponent recently announced he had sponsored a bill, HB2425, which would continue to place the burden of funding local schools on the backs of hardworking middle-class families. Although it would raise funding of public schools from 35 percent to 50 percent to reduce property taxes, it’s a curiously timed election-year gimmick. Reed himself admits he worked on this problem 12 years ago when he first got in office. Now, 12 years later, he is suddenly motivated to address the issue when facing an electoral challenge.

The bill would raise the state’s personal income tax by 20 percent and Pennsylvania’s sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent. Even worse, it fails to include a modest tax on Marcellus shale extraction as 30 other gas-producing states do. Reed’s plan allows Marcellus shale drilling companies to get away with not paying their fair share like the rest of us.

Gov. Corbett, with the help of Mr. Reed, cut $1 billion from basic education funding in 2011. Four years later, that funding has yet to be fully restored. The 2014-2015 budget fails to increase funding for basic education and the State System of Higher Education. Reed’s plan will not provide any additional funding for districts. It would cause districts to create budgets from unpredictable revenue sources. This year alone there was a state revenue shortfall of more than $1 billion.

When you are in leadership — when your party controls the governorship, the House and Senate — the people of Pennsylvania have a right to expect real accomplishments, not election-year gimmicks. We should add real revenue to school districts by enacting a 5 percent severance tax on oil and gas production — as nearly every other state does. Pennsylvania is the largest gas-producing state without a severance tax.

As demonstrated in all other states with severance taxes, the industry continues to thrive, even with a modest tax. The gas is here; the industry and jobs will stay.

To quote Mr. Reed, “Folks for years have been talking about a need for property tax reform.” I agree; people have been talking, but what’s been missing is the action. Mr. Reed’s plan is too little, too late.

Kevin Freeberg

candidate, Pennsylvania House, 62nd District

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