HomeBudget & Tax NewsGov. Josh Shapiro Takes Property Tax and Rent Rebate Plan on the...

Gov. Josh Shapiro Takes Property Tax and Rent Rebate Plan on the Road

The governor’s proposal would raise the maximum rebate from $650 to $1,000

(The Center Square) – Gov. Josh Shapiro visited Erie recently to highlight his plan to grow the state’s property tax and rent rebate program for the first time in nearly two decades.

It’s the most recent stop in an unofficial statewide budget tour touting many of the administration’s key spending proposals meant to build the workforce and, by extension, a bank account flush enough to keep Pennsylvania from falling off a “demographic cliff.”

That’ll be especially important, administration officials say, as the demand for public programs to support seniors grows exponentially over the coming decade. In a recent budget hearing, the Department of Aging said the program helps more than 570,000 residents afford their homes.

Shapiro told a crowd gathered at the Erie West Senior Center his “significant” expansion “puts more money back in renters’ and homeowners’ pockets.”

Seventeen years have elapsed since the last time the state updated the rebates and income qualifications for the program – which largely benefits seniors and other residents living on fixed incomes. In Erie County alone, 75% of the 12,000 residents who received the benefit were senior citizens.

The governor’s proposal would raise the maximum rebate from $650 to $1,000. The income cap would rise to $45,000 and be adjusted annually based on inflation.

“We can’t wait another year,” Shapiro said. “It’s been 17 years since we’ve updated this, 17 years since we’ve looked our seniors in the eye and said, ‘What do you need to get by?’

Kelly Minns, who serves as a member and volunteer at the center, said she’s “used to being told” she makes $25 over the allotted amount for most senior benefits. She would be one of the “many” of the 400,000 registered in the program who could see their rebates nearly double, according to the administration. Another 175,000 residents would find themselves eligible for the first time.

“It’s a godsend that always comes at a perfect time,” Minns said. “So whether I pay off a bill this year, get tires for my car, or just decide to treat myself to a nice dinner once a year, this blessing is a godsend. For most of us, it’s a mode of survival.”

Minns’s problem is shared by many. In the years since the rebate was first awarded, social security benefits rose relative to inflation. Meanwhile, the threshold for the rebate stagnated, disqualifying many from receiving the much-needed extra cash.

Jim Crosby, another center member and volunteer, said the expansion would help residents fulfill basic needs.

“This gives us a little extra spending money once in a while – helps with the copays, we can take the shuttle for non-emergency rides to go out shopping and go to different appointments we want to make,” he said.

Although lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree the current payout isn’t high enough, many have been wary about Shapiro’s plan to tie future raises to inflation, The Center Square previously reported. Doing so, said one House Republican leader in March, would set the state up for annual budget increases that could be unsustainable.

For his part, Shapiro would use revenues from the state’s lottery fund and gambling taxes to cover the expansion. His administration believes spending money on vital programs to grow the state’s working population will generate enough revenue to cover the rising costs of caring for Pennsylvania’s seniors.

Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.

For more from Budget & Tax News.

For more public policy from The Heartland Institute.

Christina Lengyel
Christina Lengyel
Christina Lengyel is a Center Square Contributor


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -spot_img

Heartland's Flagship Podcast

Read this report

PROOF Trump's Tax Cuts Workedspot_img
- Advertisment -spot_img

Most Popular

- Advertisement -spot_img

Recent Comments