Burns: $10 billion excess should fund property tax relief

State flush with cash, hardworking taxpayers deserve break

HARRISBURG, June 24 – Citing the state’s unprecedentedly rosy financial picture, state Rep. Frank Burns isn’t just reiterating his clarion call for no new taxes – he’s pushing for some of the extra $10 billion to alleviate high property taxes.

Burns, D-Cambria, believes Pennsylvania’s projected $3 billion budget surplus, combined with a whopping $7 billion in federal stimulus funding, leaves no room for excuses in returning money to taxpayers. His H.B. 1676 seeks to accomplish that by providing property tax relief, along with greater stipends for the rent rebate program.

“It is a fundamental truth that Harrisburg’s wants will always exceed its needs, so we should act quickly before all those cash-hungry hands reach into the pot,” Burns said, offering a history lesson in legislative budgeting. ““Not too long ago, I remember some elected officials being so hot and bothered over a projected $2 billion ‘structural deficit’ – a crisis that never materialized -- that they were gung-ho to raise any tax in sight.

“Those same people will spend every penny of the current $10 billion excess on new and expanded programs, and be back next year calling for more, unless someone puts the brakes on. I want to make sure that we don’t forget about those whose family budgets are literally held hostage by higher and higher school property taxes.”

Burns proposed a similar measure in 2019, when the state’s projected budget surplus was $828 million. Legislative leaders condemned it to die a slow death in the House Finance Committee, which never took action on the proposal.

If state government was elated with a $828 million surplus, Burns said it should be ecstatic with a $10 billion number that is a mind-boggling 12 times higher.

“There’s simply no excuse right not for not doing something to help alleviate what most Pennsylvanians view as the most onerous tax on the books,” Burns said. “If my bill doesn’t move through the process this time, it will be a big slap in the face to many hardworking Pennsylvanians and those on fixed incomes.”