Milwaukee Voucher Funding: Fairness is in the Eye of the Beholder

Alan Borsuk:

The voucher funding flaw is a bigger problem than ever and is costing Milwaukee property taxpayers millions of dollars a year.
The voucher funding flaw effectively no longer exists, and the publicly funded program that allows children to go to private schools is saving Milwaukeeans property tax dollars.
Can both of those things be true?
Decide for yourself.
When Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and leaders of the Milwaukee Public Schools system look at the issue, one number jumps out: 14.6%. That’s how much the property tax levy to pay for schools in the city is going up this year.
They associate a lot of that increase with the impact on local taxes of the school voucher program, which is allowing 20,000 low-income Milwaukee children to attend private schools this year.
The way vouchers are paid for now, through a combination of money from state government and Milwaukee property taxes, is a major reason why the property tax increase is so large, they say. If the formula were fair, in the eyes of Barrett and the MPS leaders, the school tax increase would be in the neighborhood of 4%, and maybe less. They say changing the voucher funding system is an urgent priority for the Legislature to tackle.
When leaders of School Choice Wisconsin, an influential group of supporters of the voucher program, look at the issue, a different number jumps out: $123. That’s how much more is being spent in property taxes this year on each student in MPS than on each voucher student.