K-12 Tax, Spending & 2020 Referendum Climate: Mountains of Debt

Jon Hilsenrath:

Student debt has become a heavier burden for households, and since 2007 it has tripled to $1.5 trillion, with large exposures among young individuals, according to Fed data.

“We were talking about, when this is over, we want to downsize, maybe move into a townhome, being way more conservative in terms of major purchases and spending and start building savings,” Heather Schmiege, 41 years old, said of a conversation she recently had with her husband.

Both have student loans, in addition to a mortgage and two car payments. The Tallahassee couple makes enough with two jobs to cover the bills with a bit left over, but the crisis and recent Florida hurricanes have made them wary of risk.

Congress, concerned that delinquencies could rise if unemployment skyrockets—as happened after the last economic downturn—granted a reprieve for student-loan borrowers as part of the recent economic-rescue package.

The law will allow most of the 43 million Americans with federal student loans to suspend their monthly payments, interest free, for six months. Since the federal government is the nation’s primary student lender, the program effectively shifts the student debt fallout from the crisis to Washington.

However, there have been “some unforeseen expenses,” including extra funding for custodial work and keeping buildings clean (if, or when, students return). Additionally, some virtual learning preparation has added expenses, despite being near a one-to-one device-to-student ratio.

Notes, links and commentary on Madison’s planned 2020 tax and spending increase referendum plans.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.


My recent email to the Madison School Board and District Chief Financial Officer:

I hope that you, your families and colleagues are well.

I write to see if anyone has modeled the implications of a property tax base drop on the proposed 2020 referendum? Madison’s property tax base has increased substantially over the past decade, somewhat due to a significant federal taxpayer ($38B+) electronic medical record backdoor subsidy.

How might a construction slow down and declining property values due to a recession/deep downturn affect the proposed tax & spending increases?

I further wondered if the looming substantial federal funds might be applied to replace part or all of the planned property tax based referendum?

Finally, I was part of the group that reviewed Infinite Campus (and other similar systems) years ago. Some time ago, the District completed a teacher, staff and parent usage study. Has that been updated? Please forward the % of teachers who use IC daily, weekly and monthly along with the % of parents, staff and students for similar time frames.

Best wishes,