Pennsylvania Act 34 (1973)
Act 34 of 1973, commonly known as the “Taj Mahal Act,” requires public hearings on any major construction plans – new buildings or significant renovations. The issues to be addressed are set by regulation: an explanation of why the project is needed (e.g., to reduce crowding, to improve safety), a list of alternative approaches considered, project description, expected maximum cost, financing plans, and tax impacts.
Act 34 transparency requirements apply to real property purchases, new school construction and major additions to existing buildings (defined as additions that increase floor space by 20% or more). School districts must advertise the hearings and allow at least 30 days for public inspection of relevant documents, like floor plans.
The Act requires a second Act 34 hearing if bid costs exceed by eight percent or more the estimated costs presented at the first hearing. The Act further requires a referendum if certain costs for a new building or substantial addition exceed the calculated referendum limit for that project. The requirements of Act 34 apply whether or not a project receives school construction funding from the Commonwealth.