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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 13, 2021 11:05 AM
From: Senator Steven J. Santarsiero
To: All Senate members
Subject: Put Down Roots in PA Act
In 2020, Pennsylvania ranked eighth in the nation in the number of people who moved out of state.  At the same time, our population is aging at an increasing rate.  If these trends continue, they will lead to long-term economic stagnation. To reverse course, we must enact policies that incentivize young people, whether they grew up here or elsewhere, to put down roots in Pennsylvania.

To help accomplish that goal, in the near future I will be introducing the Put Down Roots in PA Act.  Modeled on legislation recently enacted in Illinois – a state confronted by similar demographic challenges – the Put Down Roots in PA Act would pay off up to $50,000 in student loans for borrowers who purchase a home in the Commonwealth. 

Specifically, the Act would:
  • pay off up to $50,000 in student loans, or a student loan balance of 20% of the home purchase price, whichever amount is lower;
  • provide up to $5,000 towards a home down payment or closing costs, in addition to the student loan assistance; and
  • cover loans taken out to pay for tuitions at 2- or 4-year colleges and universities, as well as vocational training programs.
To qualify for the program, the following restrictions would apply:       

  • Buyers’ annual household income could not exceed $150,000. 
  • The program would apply to the purchase of primary residences in Pennsylvania only.
  • Buyers must live in the home being purchased for at least 3 years.
  • Each month during the first 3 years of the buyers’ home ownership, the state would repay 1/36th of the total student loan amount covered under the program.
Put Down Roots in PA would not require the buyer’s full student loan balance to be paid off through the purchase of the home.  However, the program would offer an optional low interest loan program to refinance any remaining debt over a 5-year period (or the remaining term of the existing loan, whichever is shorter), securitized by the residence (as a second priority security interest after the mortgage), but only up to the amount of the initial student loan payoff, or the outstanding debt, whichever is lower.   

Put Down Roots in PA would be funded by new, recurring revenue generated by closing the Delaware Loophole through the adoption of combined reporting, while at the same time reducing the corporate net income tax from its current rate of 9.99% to 7.49% by tax year 2024.  This change in our corporate tax system will make it more equitable by requiring all corporations to pay income tax in Pennsylvania (thereby leveling the playing field for our home-grown Pennsylvania companies), make Pennsylvania more competitive with other states by lowering the current rate 2.5% over three years, and still generate hundreds of millions of dollars to pay off student debt, increase home ownership and attract young people to our state.  The Act would require an assessment of the program in year three to determine how it is working and whether any adjustments are needed.

Put Down Roots in PA would help the Commonwealth keep and attract young people while increasing homeownership and dramatically decreasing student debt.  I hope you will join me in sponsoring this needed program.