The Wausau Daily Herald has a story up entitled “Removal of state cap on teacher salaries expected to increase taxes.” The removal of the QEO without comprehensive school funding reform was a bad idea, but it is much too early to tell what the post-QEO contracts look like and whether they will contribute to property tax increases.
No matter if the post QEO settlements are more than 3.8% or less than 3.8%, it isn’t too early to tell that there will be property tax increases.
Besides forcing greater than usual programing cuts on school districts, the recently passed Wisconsin budget accelerated the shift in education funding to property taxes. With all the last minute, behind closed doors changes, I’ve been having trouble getting numbers I’m confident of, but the state funding according to the old formula used to arrive at the old 2/3 guarantee will be in the 61% to 62% range this biennium. If you take out the levy credits – money that never goes near a school — the level of state funding looks to be about 50%.
Madison — with no new teacher contract at this time — will have to use $9 million more in local monies simply to cut $3 million from the programs included in the balanced budget passed in May (or use the Fund balance or re-budget, this $3 million cannot be made up by property taxes under the revenue caps). $3 million in cuts and $9 million in revenues needed and none of this involves the QEO repeal. If all the $9 million is shifted to property tax payers, it would lead to about a 54¢ mil rate increase, or about $135 on a $250,000 home. None of this has anything to do with the QEO repeal.
Actually, that’s not quite true, they are related because the same people are responsible. The QEO repeal, the shift in education funding to property taxes, the mandated program cuts, the unwillingness to move on comprehensive school funding reform, the betrayal of the Wisconsin Promise of “A Quality Education for Every Child,” are all examples of the kind of “leadership” Wisconsin has, the sad state of of the Governor’s office, the Assembly and the State Senate.
When property taxes go up, put the blame and the pressure where it belongs; give Governor Doyle and your representatives the message.
Thomas J. Mertz