The widespread success of school district referendums wasn’t the only referendum story to come out of the Nov. 6 election. Voters in a record number of municipalities also approved referenda to exceed state-imposed levy limits that restrict how much property tax revenue municipalities and counties can raise without voter approval. Voters also approved advisory referenda aimed at quelling a burgeoning dispute between “big box” retailers and big pharmacy chains and local property assessors in every jurisdiction where such a question was on the ballot. Continue reading School referenda results weren’t the only big story on Nov. 6
Overall enrollment in Wisconsin’s three main private school voucher programs (Milwaukee, Racine and statewide) increased by about 8.7 percent over last year’s voucher enrollment. Taxpayers will spend $302 million this year on vouchers to send students to private schools, an increase of about $33 million (12.3 percent) over last year. Continue reading Voucher expansion continues to drain state aid from public schools and boost property taxes
The newest Marquette University Law School Poll was released by Prof. Charles Franklin on October 31 and it included an array of questions on various election and other issues. This poll asked more K-12 related questions than previous polls including questions on teacher pay and priorities for increasing student achievement.
K-12 education once again featured as a top issue for likely voters: Continue reading MU Law Poll: K-12 still a top issue for voters; governor race a dead heat
Lost, perhaps, amidst all the focus on candidates in statewide races in the latest Marquette University Law School Poll released last week were results that suggest voters are more open to investing more for schools than they are for roads. Taxes and spending for schools and roads have been key issues in the race for governor.
On the broad question of state taxes and state services, 51 percent of registered voters surveyed said they would rather pay higher taxes and have state government provide more services, while 42 percent said they prefer lower taxes and fewer services from the state.
Continue reading Are schools and roads on a collision course when it comes to funding?
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Gov. Scott Walker has pledged to restore the state’s commitment to cover two-thirds of school costs without raising property taxes. State Supt. Tony Evers, the Democratic challenger, promised the same when he released his education plan.
Two-thirds funding was a commitment established in state law in 1993 to reduce the burden on property taxes. This commitment was repealed in the 2003-05 state budget. In December 2017, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) estimated that state support in the 2017-18 school year would be 64.8%. With no per pupil adjustment to revenue limits and an infusion of per pupil categorical aid ($190 million) from the state and a modest increase in state general aid ($73 million), the percentage was projected by the LFB to increase to 65.8% in 2018-19.
It should be noted that returning to the state providing two-thirds funding alone does not necessarily mean additional resources for school districts. The way two-thirds funding is calculated, all of the increase from the state could go into levy credits, which would reduce property tax bills but would not increase school budgets one dime. Or if general aids are increased but revenue limits are not adjusted, it could simply mean a higher percentage of that capped amount would come from the state and the percentage from property taxes would decrease correspondingly.
A new memorandum prepared by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) at the request of state Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) finds that the property tax bill estimate for taxes levied in 2017 and payable in 2018 for the statewide median-valued home is $27 higher than earlier estimated.
The new LFB memo updates an estimate of the property tax bill on the statewide median-valued home for the same tax year that was prepared when the state budget (2017 Wisconsin Act 59) was signed into law in September 2017. The new memo is based on final property tax levies and property tax credit distributions. Both memos used actual equalized property valuations.
The new memo shows the net tax bill on the median-valued home rose from $2,852 in 2016 to $2,876 in 2017, an increase of $24. The earlier memo had estimated a decrease of $3.
State Superintendent and candidate for governor Tony Evers is seeking a substantial increase for public schools in his agency’s budget request according to press reports. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel pegs the additional amount at $1.4 billion.
A large portion of the increase will be devoted to special education funding and increases in other categorical aids. Another large portion of the increase is slated to go into general equalization aid to offset potential increases in local property tax levies that could stem from allowing state-imposed revenue limits to be adjusted for inflation and to hold districts harmless against losses. Continue reading Tony Evers seeking $1.4 billion increase for schools in DPI budget request