from the inbox:
State Rep. Mark Painter joined his House Democratic colleagues in voting for an amendment recently that would have expanded a program that helps eligible homeowners with property tax rebates, but which was defeated by the state House on a party-line vote with all Republicans voting no.
"My constituents have made it clear that high property taxes are one of their top concerns," said Painter, D-Montgomery. "While we have yet to achieve consensus on how to fund education through another means, without hurting school district budgets on a statewide basis, we had an opportunity to reduce the burden for many people through an expansion of the highly successful Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. However, the majority party decided to vote against helping taxpayers."
The amendment to H.B. 468 would have tapped $57 million of the Pennsylvania Lottery's $100 million surplus to expand the program. It would have increased the amount of the property tax rebate by $100 in each of the four income categories already in place. It also would have increased the eligibility limit from $35,000 to $45,000.
House Bill 468 would:
· permanently extend the program's deadline to Dec. 31;· double the amount of death benefits to $10,000 that may be exempted when considering income for program eligibility;· allow an executor to apply for the rebate on behalf of a deceased applicant if the individual was eligible for the program on the date he or she died.
Painter joined the House in passing the bill and sent it to the state Senate for consideration.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program, funded by lottery proceeds, helps hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to pay their property taxes. According to the Department of Revenue, as of Dec. 31, more than 411,000 homeowners applied for assistance and 79,805 of those will pay no school property taxes.