Saturday, December 10th, 2016

Taking down the last barrier to property tax increases

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In this week’s article for the MacIver Institute, I took a look at Governor Jim Doyle’s plans for the “Race to the Top” money from the federal government.

Doyle plans on using $250 million in federal “Race to the Top” federal money to boost school funding in some districts. But when the “Race to the Top” money runs out, Doyle would like to lift the caps on property taxes in those districts.

This news comes as Wisconsin taxpayers are receiving their property tax bills and learning just how much school property taxes went up as a result of the last state budget. The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance estimates school property taxes went up statewide six percent, in part the result of cuts in state aid.

Doyle would tie the increased funding to a set of reforms in each school district, including whether the insurance for teachers is competitively bid. Once the federal funding dries up, then those districts would be able to raise property taxes above and beyond the revenue caps currently in place. So, ironically, by responding to the taxpayers and being fiscally responsible, the school districts may get the power to punish taxpayers even more.

Other requirements for the increased funding for some school districts would include cooperating with each other on union contract negotiations, increase mentoring, hiring math and reading “coaches,” and conducting more teacher evaluations.

Whether Johnny’s reading or math skills improve? Not criteria for increased funds.

We have already seen the demise of 2/3 funding and the QEO. With the removal of the caps, property taxes could skyrocket.

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