In April, 76 percent of the referendums to exceed revenue limits passed. That compares to a typical rate of about 50 percent in years prior. This represents a changing perception of the state’s support of public schools, said Todd Berry, president of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance.
“This reflects a shift in public opinion due, I think, to tighter state-imposed restraint on aids and revenue limits in recent years,” Berry said. “There is one instance above all when locals will vote to tax themselves: a fear that they might lose their community’s or neighborhood’s school.”
One bill — yet to be introduced but available in draft form — would require school boards to ask voters to approve referendums only during the traditional spring or fall elections, and prohibit school boards from going back to voters for two years after a referendum is rejected.
Currently, school boards can hold special elections for referendums and can go back to voters during the next scheduled election if a question fails.
Another bill bans school boards from exceeding their state-imposed revenue limits in order to pay for energy-efficiency projects — an exception to levy limits that lawmakers created in 2009.
Compare Madison’s property tax growth and income stagnation. Despite spending more than $15,000 per student annually – double the national average, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.