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Follow-up on CEPTA’s January Meeting

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President’s Report

by John Donches

 

We had another very informative presentation to over 30 attendees on the state of “Property Tax Elimination” in Pennsylvania at our January 20th C.E.P.T.A. event. The presenter, Mr. David Baldinger, is a well-known and regarded citizen specialist on this legislation. He has been totally involved with this since the days of Sam Rohr’s introducing it in the legislature in 2009. Mr. Baldinger reported and that there seems to be enough bipartisan backing this new legislative session to pass the bill this year and that we are now at the threshold to getting the State government to be singly responsible to fully funding our school districts as it is supposed to do according to our PA Constitution:

B. EDUCATION

SS 14. Public school system.

The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.

(May 16, 1967, P.L.1037, J.R.3)

And therein lies the problem stated as “Shall Provide” and as the State legislatures see it that means passing on bundles of educational cost from the State down to the local level, especially through unfunded mandates from the PA Department of Education.

Here’s an interesting history of public schools in PA:

http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/rg/rg22ahr.htm

If passed this legislation, better known as “HB/SB 76 would eliminate the property tax. It would raise personal income tax from 3.07% to 4.34% and increase sales tax from 6% to 7%, also the number of things that are taxable would expand to help make property tax elimination feasible; however there are many good tax exceptions. Link to bill and exceptions:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/799686-hb-76-property-tax-bill.html

Mr. Baldinger mentions the positive effects being that eliminating the expense/cost of property taxes would be a dramatic boost to the economy as it puts your property tax dollars back into your pocket to spend on the things you want and need and would be a real boost to home sales as the property tax money can now be used to help purchase the home.

How much money would you have to spend to equal the amount you pay in property tax?

Let’s see if the sales tax goes up from 6% to 7% that means for every dollar you spend on taxable items and services $.07 goes to tax. So for every $10,000.00 spent you’ll pay $700.00 in tax, conversely every $1000.00 in property tax paid you’ll need to spend $14,285.00 on taxable items. Link to average property taxes paid by county in PA:

http://www.tax-rates.org/pennsylvania/property-tax

In Lehigh County, with an average property tax of $3004.00 one must spend almost $43,000.00 on taxable items and services per year to make up the property taxes paid. This is especially important to those on a fixed income as they tend to spend a lot less on stuff in their later years and the beauty of this legislation is it prevents anyone from losing their home due to taxes. It is a fairer consumption based tax vs. a government based value tax. You can determine your tax burden based on what and when, even if, you’ll buy something vs a fixed amount of tax regardless of if you can afford it or not.

 

 

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CEPTA “Public Union Reform” Meeting Highlights

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CEPTA’s meeting on “Public Union Reform” was another well attended event and our guest speaker, Mr. Simon Campbell, was his usual self; well energized, on point, and able to answer all the audience questions and there were a lot of audience questions. His web site is https://www.facebook.com/paunionreform

Mr. Campbell’s main points at the meeting were:

A) Teacher union dues are collected for the PSEA (PA State Education Association), the teachers union by the school districts. The union dues are made up of two parts; the first, about 80% is the basic due for the services the union provides to the individuals in the union, the second part ~20% is money the union uses for political reasons like lobbying Harrisburg and Washington to advocate for the union.
In order to collect these dues, the school district expends public funds. Listen to how Mr. Simon Campbell suggests we can save money by negotiating this out of the union contracts. This would require the unions collect their own dues and not have the school districts pay to do the unions work. http://mediatrackers.org/pennsylvania/2013/10/18/nfib-pennsylvania-calls-end-automatic-dues-deductions

B) Right to Work access- This is an idea in which individuals would not be forced to join a union in order to be employed. Also, individuals who work in a union environment would not be forced to pay union dues and would be free to negotiate their own contracts. Many supporters believe if Pennsylvania passes Right to Work legislation it will return the wage scale to be more market driven and merit based instead of a one size fits all scheme, as well as attract more companies to our state . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law

C) The massively underfunded, by over $45 billion, PA State public union pensions are crippling our school district and state budgets and could cause some districts to go broke. We need to have our legislature take on the responsibility to correct this unsustainable state of affairs http://www.districtadministration.com/article/are-bankrupt-cities-foreshadowing-future-schools

CEPTA was fortunate to have as an attendee in the audience Mr. Rich Shuker; Mr. Shuker was guest speaker at last month’s CEPTA event on “SB/HB 76 Property Tax Elimination”. We asked him to give a 10 minute update on how this bill is doing in our legislature and he was happy to give that update. Mr. Shuker talked with many legislators in both the House and Senate and said they are working together to amend their concerns and he had a very positive outlook that this bill will make it to a vote in the near future. Here’s his site you can go to and learn how this bill will affect you the taxpayer. http://eyesonpa.com/property-tax-independence-act

I hope you’ll take a look at the video and consider coming out to see one of our future C.E.P.T.A. events soon. Please consider joining us and giving your input on how we can work together to solve issues that affect our taxes.

John Donches
President C.E.P.T.A.

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guest presenter Simon Campbell

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guest presenter Simon Campbell 2

CEPTA Property Tax Elimination Meeting Informative to Many

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CEPTA hosted a really good meeting on October 15th. The meeting was well attended, with over 55 people in attendance to hear the presentation. We had our new banner up front right alongside the US flag so there was plenty of color to go along with seriousness and timeliness of our topic for this month. We had a presenter from the Reading area, Mr. Rich Shuker, come visit us to talk about HB/SB 76 or as they are better known “The Property Tax Elimination or Property Tax independence Act” . This bill would eliminate the school portion of your property tax and replace it with an increase in the sales and income tax. The PA sales tax would increase from the current 6% to 7% and include an expanded list of taxable items, however would not tax food at all or clothing under the cost of $50.00. The state personal income tax would increase from 3.07% to 4.34%. Mr. Shuker is a financial broker in business since the 80’s and has followed this legislation for many years, since it was first sponsored in legislation by Pa. House Representative Sam Rohrer back in 2008 http://ptcc.us/whatneedstohappen.htm and has been with us in one form or another to the current HB/SB 76.
Mr. Shuker is a member of an organization called “Eyes On PA” and their web site is http://eyesonpa.com/property-tax-independence-act where you can access all kinds of current articles, facts and videos on this specific subject and others that may strike your interest. Check their site out and Mr. Shuker told me if there are any questions to please send them through their site and they will get back with an answer and verifying data to support their responses. I would encourage everyone to please get involved and send those questions so we can all become more informed.
Just recently the PA Association of Realtors has signed on in support of this legislation and will be lobbying for its passage. Here’s the link to the PA Assoc. of Realtors http://www.parealtor.org/property-tax-reform/ and their September 16th, 2013 Power Point presentation http://www.parealtor.org/clientuploads/Legislative/PDF/AEG-Presentation-to-PARLegCmte-091513.pdf

Some points of interest
1. Currently there are two taxing bodies; the State and Local School Boards. Independent of each other they keep increasing our tax burden for school funding. If this bill would pass it would put the responsibility on the State to come up with the money to fund our educational system. That is actually where our PA constitution says it belongs. The local school board would no longer have the responsibility to fund the unfunded mandates handed down from the State legislature. Meaning that if the State passes a mandate they will need to fund it. This leaves the local school board with the important responsibility of ensuring their school district improves their educational performance.

Public School System Section 14. The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.

2. We all get old and most of us end up on fixed income. A typical retired husband and wife with good pensions and Social Security incomes may be financially comfortable living in their home. What happens if one of them dies and half of the monthly income goes away; can the other afford the expenses and taxes for their house now? Typically it ends with the survivor needing to sell or go into foreclosure. http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/10/real_estate/tax-liens/

We at C.E.P.T.A. hope to see you at our next event.

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HB'SB 76 Photo

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CEPTA Hosts Meeting on “Common Core”

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On Tuesday August 20th CEPTA presented an informational meeting on the new federally mandated educational standards called “Common Core”. It was standing room only as over 100 people, including school directors, local government leaders, and the public were all in attendance to hear Dr. Peg Luksik explain this new education standard. Common Core is the new federally mandated program that is replacing the previously failed federally mandated “No Child Left Behind” program. The “No Child Left Behind” standards mandated by Federal law required that all schools must meet 100% proficiency by 2014 in order not to be labeled a failed school. Is this new “Common Core” program destined to follow its predecessor? Dr. Luksik used the filings made by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to the U.S. Department of Education to explain what will be expected of local school districts to comply with the new standards. There is a great deal of information circulating about Common Core, some true and some untrue. Dr. Luksik addressed many of these points, for example: Pennsylvania has stated that they will not implement Common Core; however they will implement Pennsylvania Core Standards. Upon examination of the reports the Pennsylvania Department of Education filed with the U.S. Department of Education Dr. Luksik showed that the Pennsylvania Core Standards are identical to the Federal Common Core standards. She also showed that based on these filings local curriculum would have to change to match the Federal Common Core curriculum.

The audience came prepared to ask plenty of questions and Dr. Luksik didn’t disappoint. She was well prepared and had a wealth of knowledge on this subject. Dr. Luksik’s main premise is that learning cannot be mandated. Every child is different, with varying interests that impact how and what they learn. To expect a uniform outcome by mandating that everyone will learn a subject on and at the same level is unreasonable.

Our second Presenter was our 134th district House Representative, Honorable Ryan Mackenzie. He spoke about what has been happening at our state Capitol on this topic. Representative Mackenzie also fielded many questions from the audience with lots of information being exchanged on this hot topic.

We at C.E.P.T.A. hope to see you at our next event.

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CEPTA October Meeting – Policy 109

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Policy 109 is the method for citizens to challenge the content and materials used in public schools. October’s CEPTA meeting had speakers on this topic and is available below.

Many Faces of Education – Part 2

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CEPTA School Budget Forum Video

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