By Sam Walseth, MREA Lobbyist
On the equity front, there are two really good proposals in play right now.
House Education Chair Paul Marquart spends $30 million on an ‘enhanced equity’ formula for districts with less than $300/pupil in operating referendum authority. This would be an aid/levy revenue program. Combined with another $30 million in new referendum equalization aid, the average $150,000 home would see an $80 increase in districts with no current referendum authority.
Senate Tax Chair Rod Skoe has a proposal in the Senate Tax bill called ‘Education Advancement Revenue” that accomplishes much of the same goal as the House bill. It allows school boards to establish a $300/pupil levy on their referendum market value (RMV) and to help swallow the medicine he equalizes this $300/pupil levy at almost twice the current referendum equalization rate. The average $150,000 home would see a $53/year increase in taxes.
There are 54 districts who would have new options for local revenue supported with state equalization, if either of these proposals pass. They may not be as good as all state aid, but folks, that’s not going to happen. Communities have to put some RMV property tax skin in the game.
The legislature is saying they’re willing to help with this year’s proposals, but local boards will still have to make a decision about local property taxes. We think asking people to chip in $5, $8, $12 a month for their local schools to have a new revenue base of $300/pupil to work with is worth it. Keep in mind, $300/pupil is about a third of the average operating referendum currently in place.