A state legislator from the House of Representatives is trying to present a new solution to a very old Pennsylvania problem: dependence on school property taxes.
The Republican representative of Lebanon County, Frank Ryan, acknowledged on Tuesday that his plan to eliminate the property tax not yet presented would be a large and difficult pill to swallow for the community. This is mainly because the plan contains almost five percent of taxes on all retirement income, except Social Security.
Representative Frank Ryan explains his plan not yet presented to journalists. (Katie Meyer / WITF)
"Knowing how politically sensitive this is, I can't think of anyone other than a 68-year-old second-year representative who may be willing to mention this and talk about it," Ryan said.
He acknowledged that older people with high incomes like him would definitely pay more under the plan. And he added, some school districts with difficulties may have to cut costs or consolidate.
"This is not going to be an easy sale," he said. "It's controversial. It has never been done before."
Along with the retiree tax, Ryan's plan would evaluate a local income tax of 1.85 percent and a local sales tax of two percent, which would extend to food and clothing.
The spokesmen of the leaders of the House and the Senate said they await the recommendations of a working group on the issue before adopting a position on any bill.
Berks County Republican Senator David Argall, head of the Senate Majority Policy Committee and one of the key voices of the legislature on property tax elimination, has said that Ryan's retirement tax is politically unfeasible , telling the Reading Eagle that it is "very, very unpopular with the people I represent."
However, he said he is considering some of Ryan's other proposals.
Ryan said he has been busy buying his proposal from his own constituents, particularly retirees, without whose support he said the bill will collapse and burn.
That support is currently around 50 percent, he estimated. Retirees who live solely from Social Security tend to support it, and those with pensions or equivalent do not.
"I would never have designed a system from scratch that looks like the bill I am proposing," he said. "But I didn't design the system that I have to fix."