Reschovsky: Revenue Limits Will Force School Districts to Cut Property Taxes

Andrew Reschovsky, a professor at the La Follette School of Public Affairs and PROFS Steering Committee member, has found that more that three-quarters of school districts in the state will be forced to reduce the amount of revenue they can raise locally under Governor Scott Walker’s proposed 2011-13 state budget. Along with a deep reduction in state aid to public schools, Walker has proposed a reduction in revenue limits:

The proposed state budget calls for a reduction in each school district’s revenue limit by 5.5 percent between this year (fiscal year 2011) and next (fiscal year 2012). The budget will also reduce general school aids to almost all districts. In those school districts where the reduction in aid is smaller than the mandated reduction in the revenue limit, school property taxes will have to be reduced. Only in districts where aid cuts are larger than the mandated reduction in the revenue limit would school districts be able to partially offset the impact of the state aid reduction with an increase in property tax levies.

Reschovsky also found that the budget proposal will adversely affect districts with high percentages of students eligible for free and reduced priced lunch (an indicator of poverty):

Although the average reduction in revenue limits does not vary substantially across districts classified by the percentage of students from poor families, the Governor’s budget proposals would result in larger per-pupil reductions in general aid in districts with the highest levels of student poverty. The average general aid reduction would be $279 per pupil in districts with fewer than 10 percent of pupils from poor families, and $524 in school districts with more than 60 percent
of students from poor families.