November 9, 2007
Taylor Moves for Immediate Tax Relief for MPS Property Tax Payers
MILWAUKEE – On Friday, State Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) continued her fight for Senate Bill 299, legislation to redistribute state aid to public school districts most in need. The bill, passed by the Senate on Thursday, would affect over $79 million of school funding, allocated under a new budget formula. That formula caused Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to lose $1.6 million in much-needed funding, and over $2.45 million to schools in Milwaukee County.
“The students in schools around Wisconsin shouldn’t be subjected to further budget cuts,” Taylor said, “especially given the blows they’ve already had to withstand.”
Instead of the generally-used equalized formula applied in previous budgets, the recent budget compromise distributes school aid more in accordance with property tax values. Senate Bill 299 would revise the funding system so that school districts with lower property values aren’t unfairly burdened.
Already facing a punitive funding formula, and without the additional state aid, school districts have considered increasing property tax levies in order to fund vital programming. MPS, for example, recently proposed a 16.4% increase in its property tax levy.
“Increasing levies was not the right solution,” Taylor explained. “A 16.4% increase is completely unacceptable, and the 9.4% increase that was adopted is still hard to swallow. I’ve heard from people all over Milwaukee who are already digging deep just to keep up.”
“The final budget includes valuable funding for high poverty aid, helping to lower the MPS levy by more than 3%,” Taylor noted. “Provisions like that put the final budget leaps and bounds ahead of the original Assembly GOP education budget. There are, however, still corrections to be made. As MPS struggles with the combination of declining enrollment and rising property values, this budget fix is just one of many steps necessary to address the problems they face.”
“Now it’s up to the Assembly to hear the taxpayers and get this legislation passed. For the sake of our children, for the sake of our families, for the sake of our schools, and for Wisconsin’s legacy, I hope they rethink their promise to not hear the bill!”