Let’s do a little School Funding 101.
Governor Scott Walker claims he’s raised the funding for public schools by $129 million.
Sounds good. But here’s the problem: The amount of funding for Wisconsin public schools has a corresponding restriction – a revenue limit (cap). If that cap is not raised, any increase in State funding translates into an equivalent decrease in the amount that goes to the schools from property taxes (State funding is increased by $129 million. Therefore property tax funding is decreased by $129 million.) Revenue for school districts remains the same.
Example: Say the revenue limit (cap) were $10,000 per student, paid equally by $5000 from the State and $5000 from local property tax. When the State increases its contribution, say by $1000 per student, for a total of $6000 in State contribution, the property tax contribution would be reduced to $4000 unless the revenue cap were raised. The amount per student would not change.
In short, less funding will come from property taxes, thereby constituting “property tax relief.” But schools and students are getting the same amount of money, not an increase. With inflation, the amount actually constitutes a loss of funding for public schools.
Scott Walker’s $129 million is actually “property tax relief” while public school funding declines.
This is all going on at the same time Walker is increasing $73 million for general vouchers, $21 million for special education vouchers and $23 million for charters.