Sen. Rod Skoe continued his efforts to get all school districts at least $300/pupil on local property taxes. SF 576, also known as Education Advancement Revenue (EAR) was reviewed again in the Senate Tax committee last week. This time around the bill took on some amendments aimed at gaining bi-partisan support.
The first amendment was on the EAR levy base itself which was originally proposed to go on a district’s entire Adjusted Net Tax Capacity (ANTC). The amendment sets the EAR levy on Referendum Market Value. This was to address concerns by business interests concerned that an EAR on ANTC would shift property tax burden onto businesses at the same as the state business levy is likely to go up.
Another amendment equalizes the EAR levy at an equalization rate double the current equalization rate for operating referendum. This is to soften the impact of adding the EAR levy in those districts that don’t have an referendum authority in place today. EAR levy revenue would be offset by reducing a districts’ operating referendum authority; that much is still the same in the bill.
The last amendment is the one that may cause the most heartburn to local districts. It says that a district may not authorize an increase to its operating referendum in fiscal year 2015. A district can still reauthorize an operating referendum that is expiring, minus $300/pupil.
This last amendment is intended to get the interest of GOP Senators and show that the EAR isn’t just a property tax grab by schools, but a new public policy tool to create some equity and stability in the funding system. SF 576, as amended, was referred to the Senate E-12 Budget Division where it will undergo further scrutiny.