Education funding – Are there any magic answers?

With current estimates suggesting a 7-8% increase in the statewide property tax, education revenues and expenses are going to be under a microscope this session. School boards and administrators have a difficult job to contain per pupil costs as student enrollments are declining. And decisions to close schools are often contentious and unpopular.

Last spring, the Governor proposed negotiating teacher and staff healthcare benefits at the state level, a proposal that was unpopular with the NEA and legislative leaders. In the end, the legislature and Governor agreed to lower education spending by $13 million with targets for healthcare benefit savings. Statewide, those targets were not met, perhaps not even close.

Expect another look at statewide negotiations and a number of other proposals, including staff ratios, to be considered in the coming months. A 7% or higher property tax increase is not palatable for taxpayers or lawmakers.

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