Unfortunately, it appears the controls proposed for school districts under the constitutional amendment could undo all that. Just as troubling, it also appears the amendment could seriously disequalize taxes and spending across school districts in Wisconsin – something that itself would appear to violate an existing constitutional mandate that requires school districts to be “as nearly uniform as practical.”
When the proposed amendment was introduced last month, I asked the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to analyze its effect on school levies compared to the statutory revenue controls in current law. Because the proposed constitutional limits would not be in effect until the 2009-10 fiscal year, the bureau analysis estimated the effect of the amendment if it had been in effect for the current school year rather than the current statutory controls.
According to the Fiscal Bureau analysis, “In the absence of the statutory revenue limits, the total allowable levy under the joint resolutions would have been $3.71 billion, which would have been an increase of $117.8 million compared to the actual 2005-06 levy.”
That begs the question, why would we amend the constitution to increase property taxes more than $100 million? How can that be labeled taxpayer protection?