Democratic Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D-31) held a community meeting with local business leaders Monday evening at the Chancellor Center.
The focus of the meeting was House Bill 1776. The proposed bill, which is receiving bipartisan support, Santarisiero said, is slated to tackle the decades-old issue of property tax reform by eliminating the school property tax.
In the absence of a school property tax, the pending bill would raise the sales tax to 7 percent and increase the personal income tax.
Dozens of services and products that are not currently included in the current sales tax would be added. Among those items are clothes that cost over $50, bibles, all food not included in the WIC program, American flags, non-prescription medications, college textbooks, hair styling, museum and theater admission, veterinary services.
The Newtown-area representative said the proposals to replace property tax, which mostly goes toward the funding of education, just “doesn’t add up.”
“Right off the bat our school districts would take a 25 % cut in funding,” he said. “A quarter of education funding as we know it would be gone under this proposal.”
Santarisiero said the new taxes are more susceptible to economic downturn.
“In an economy where we’re still trying to dig out and have positive growth in the economy …. this type of legislation would put cold water on that process,” he said.
The representative told the small audience that taxing online retailers, working on adding a tax to natural gas drilling and closing the “Delaware gap” for corporations would help add tax revenues without increasing the sales tax or personal income tax.
A woman in the audience raised concerns because the school property tax is detectable at the end of the year; the sales tax is not. Santarisiero agreed with her concern.
Toward the end of the meeting, Santarisiero urged constituents to make their voice heard and oppose the bill.
“One way or the other, it’s important to be involved in the process and have your voice heard.”
Santarisiero also spoke to local business owners about a computer glitch that caused thousands of businesses in the state to receive the wrong unemployment compensation rate for the second quarter of the year. He said the Department of Labor and Industry is working to correct the problem.
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