EVERS PROPOSES EDUCATION FUNDING OVERHAUL
Monday, November 15th, 2010 -- 12:18 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director
Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers unveiled his proposal to overhaul the state’s funding of public education on Monday.
A key piece of the plan is the elimination of $900-million in property tax credits for homeowners.
“Well certainly the use of the school property tax levy credit being called ‘state aid’ is a shell game because it’s not … that tax levy credit does not pay for a single pencil, pen or book in any schools. And what it does is it compels school districts to actually levy for that credit and that money should be going directly to schools,” Evers told the Wisconsin Radio Network.
Evers says his Fair Funding for our Future plan would make the confusing school funding formula transparent, and eliminate the middle man. “Absolutely; there’s no reason to have a middle man. The school districts already — and will continue to — have revenue control so that they can only spend so much. So that money should go directly to schools. This plan will be property tax neutral and we believe when it is implemented it will hold the line on property taxes,” Evers said.
Other key proposals include a 20% hike in state aid for every enrolled student who qualifies for free or reduced-price lunch and an effort to tie education funding increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
AREA SCHOOLS WOULD BENEFIT
The reforms are proposed to start in the 2012-13 school year, but the DPI released calculations today showing what they would have done to the 2010-11 budgets of area schools.
Area schools would fair well. Greenwood would have received $220,000, or 6.8%, more state aid; Granton would have received $111,0000, or 5.2% more; Neillsville would have received $277,000, or 3.9% more state aid and Loyal would have received $86,000, 2.1% more.
DEAD ON ARRIVAL?
But the plan appears to be “dead on arrival” in the Republican-controlled legislature because it includes a request for $420-million over the next two years. That amounts to a 2% increase in 2011-12 and a 4% increase in 2012-2013.
The state is facing a $3-billion budget deficit.
Dale Knapp of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance says the DPI’s funding increase requests will likely fall on deaf ears.
“My guess is we’ll see a couple more years of slow, to no growth in school aids,” he says. “It’s just because the state really doesn’t have any money.”
Knapp calls the School Levy Tax Credit “dubious” in that it is counted as educational aid, although it doesn’t go to schools.
“Essentially, it’s a credit that property taxpayers get that’s based on the school tax. The higher your school tax rate, the bigger your credit is,” he explains. “It’s just a credit that goes directly to the taxpayers.”
Knapp notes moving money from the levy credit into aid won’t increase the amount of revenue a district can raise, it will just reduce their tax levy.
The state has been moving away from their commitment to 2/3s funding for education. While it may improve the state’s bottom line, it has caused property taxes to increase to around 4.5% of personal income.
“Over the last five to six years we’ve really seen higher than usual increases in school levies, because state aids have been little changed, or as they did last year, declined,” Knaap notes.
We have not been able to reach Rep. Scott Suder to get his comments on the proposal.
Jackie Johnson from WRN contributed to this report
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