Legislature's school budget speaks volumes
You'll hear a lot of rhetoric in coming few days about how the Legislature "didn't raise taxes" this year. But anyone who can decipher the public school budget numbers knows better. Budget detail released Monday evening shows the following:
Property taxes for schools will increase next year by $365-million statewide, an 4.6-percent increase. (Lawmakers increased the tax rate for this tax by 0.189 mills to generate more money; they could have kept the rate the same as last year). To offset the increase, lawmakers fractionally lowered two smaller tax levies by school boards known as discretionary taxes, much of which is for construction. The bottom line is clear: The Legislature will require collection of more property taxes next year to run schools.
Now for the most revealing number of all. For the first time in memory, a greater share of the total K-12 budget comes from local tax dollars, not state dollars. To be precise, it's $9.4-billion in local money, and $9-billion in state money. (This year it's $9.7-billion in state money, $9-billion in local money). It's an historic shift in responsibility for public school operations from state taxes to local taxes.