Taylor Sets Priorities for Fall Session
HARRISBURG -- When Rep. John Taylor (R-Philadelphia) returns to session next week, he will be tackling a number of important issues, including debt reform, stronger laws to protect children, and reforms to protect Philadelphia property taxpayers.
The House will also continue focusing on improving the state’s jobs climate to enhance opportunities for Pennsylvanians to build careers and earn family-sustaining wages.
Property Tax Reform:
With the city moving to an Actual Value Initiative, Taylor is leading a fight to change the state-established millage rates to prevent Philadelphia taxpayers from experiencing a spike in their bills.
“For the new property tax formula to work, we must change the millage rate or homeowners will experience a huge increase in their tax bills,” Taylor said. “We must reset the millage rate to a proper level.”
Taylor will help push Senate Bill 1303 through the House. The legislation would allow the city to significantly reduce the school district tax rate. This also allows a one-time exception to Act 46 to allow the city council to lower the city-established portion of the school district tax rate to correspond to the significant increase in property tax assessments in 2013. Currently, Act 46 prohibits the city from decreasing the city-established portion of the school district tax rate.
Reducing Capital Debt
Out-of-control borrowing and spending policies are crippling state finances, and the growing Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) is saddling our kids and grandkids with a bill that will take 20 years to pay down, Taylor said.
The House will take up legislation to reduce the RACP debt ceiling, initially to $3.5 billion from its current $4.05 billion, and then, incrementally until it reaches $1.5 billion. The bill does not eliminate the economic development grant program, but redefines it and makes it financially viable.
“Putting our state’s financial house in order is a top priority for me,” Taylor said. “That means controlling spending, especially in the capital budget and the issuance of debt.”
Created in 1999 with an initial debt ceiling of $1.2 billion, the RACP debt ceiling has been raised six times since then, pushing it up to $4.05 billion. There are approximately 8,000 RACP projects that have been added to the program’s list since 1999.
The legislation redefines the program to finance buildings and related infrastructure (i.e. roads, bridges, tunnels, waste disposal, storm water, sewage or water infrastructure; as well as bridges or roads when part of an economic development project) projects with a total cost of $1 million or more, and would generate or maintain substantial economic activity (e.g. substantial increases in employment or maintenance of tax revenues) and have a substantial regional or multijurisdictional economic impact.
Ensuring Families are Involved
In a move to make sure deadbeat dads and other family members meet their responsibilities, Taylor will be supporting House Bills 2499 and 2500.
Both call for the use of family conferencing and family finding as a means to create better, more stable outcomes for children and to potentially save taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent on costly, long-term placements for some children, he said.
House Bill 2499 would require a county Children and Youth Agency to engage in family finding, an ongoing, diligent effort to locate any family members who may be in a position to help and support the child. The bill would require family finding to occur at least annually.
House Bill 2500 would require counties, within five years, to facilitate family conferencing, or meetings where a family – including relatives and kin – work together to develop a safety plan for a child. The bill would require family conferencing to be offered at least annually and at key decision points for the child and the family.
The 2011-12 legislative session has been a productive one thus far, with 177 bills signed into law to address key issues such as reforming business taxes to provide a level playing field for employers; closing loopholes in the state’s Megan’s Law to protect children; enacting an impact fee on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale; expanding the Castle Doctrine law; and adopting on-time fiscally responsible budgets for the last two years.
State Representative John Taylor
177th District, Pennsylvania House of Representatives