Gambling-generated tax relief — which state officials now admit might have been a little over-hyped — saves average homeowners a few hundred bucks in school taxes.

State-mandated tax caps were supposed to force districts to spend within their means, but they are still spending — sometimes beyond their means if they're granted exceptions.

Separately, neither is much to shout about.

Together, however, the legislative pieces have made a dent in school tax bills.

Thanks to the caps, gone are the freewheeling days when school boards thought nothing of 8 percent, 10 percent or higher annual tax hikes.

In the past six years, all but two of York County's 16 districts have held tax hikes to 5 percent or less, according to an analysis by York Dispatch education reporter Nickelle Snader.

Districts can seek exceptions to exceed the caps — to cover special education or pension costs, for example — but every year fewer and fewer are choosing to do so.

As for the relief well, every little bit helps.

"I'm happy to receive it," said Jane Johnson, who saw a $112 reduction in her Central York School District tax bill this year. "I don't think it's a major break."

Not major, but at least something.

Caps and tax relief were part of Act 1, the result of a 2006 special session on school property taxes that also legalized casinos in Pennsylvania.


That was the last time lawmakers made a serious effort at what most concede is their constituents' top concern.

Eight years on, it's clear a second attempt is needed.

The governor — whoever that is next year — should call another special session in January focused solely on finishing the puzzle.

Missing pieces that should be on the agenda include property tax, school funding and pension reforms, as well as school consolidation, which is being studied in York County by the state Independent Fiscal Office.

We don't think there's a single, magic bullet that will ease the burden on homeowners while still adequately funding public education.

Lawmakers should be building an arsenal.