Episode 42: The never-ending quest to kill property taxes

One lawmaker offers his take on how to kill property taxes and still fund public schools.

  • Katie Meyer/WITF

The commonwealth’s lawmakers are still on their summer recess for another month. But a few are already laying out plans for their return—some more ambitious than others.

One of those ambitious legislators? Frank Ryan. He’s a second-term Republican who represents part of Lebanon County and wants to get rid of property taxes once and for all.

Harrisburg lawmakers have dreamed of getting rid of property taxes for years. The problem is, the revenue to fund public schools would then have to come from somewhere else. And the legislature hasn’t been able to agree on a substitute.

Ryan is taking a different route than most of the people who have tried to tackle the taxes.

His plan, which isn’t introduced yet, would leverage local sales and personal income taxes. And most crucially, it would put an almost five percent tax on all retirement income, except Social Security.

Ryan likes to remind people, he’s 68. His own taxes will go up under his plan, and he thinks that means he’s one of the only people who could get away with proposing something like this.

But will still be very, very difficult for him to get traction.

On this week’s episode, we look into the recent history of the property tax problem, and talk about some of the options lawmakers have suggested for alternative revenue.

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