This bill is the Senate Republican-led majority’s plan to comply with the state Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary ruling that the state must fully meet basic education funding needs. Under this measure, local property taxes would be reduced and state property taxes would be increased. This so-called “levy swap” would create a flat statewide property tax levy of $1.80 per $1,000 of assessed value, replacing the current system of local levies that vary among school districts.
The plan would replace the current school funding formula with a minimum annual funding level of at least $12,500 per student and the state would make up the difference for any school districts whose tax base is not large enough to reach this minimum. Such payments are estimated to be about $1.4 billion every two years, which, according to the bill’s proponents, could be met without additional taxes. The legislature could increase per-student dollar amounts in future years based on inflation and other expenses.
The bill also includes a number of reforms and accountability provision, as well as a referendum clause that would require voters to approve the plan in the coming November election. Senate Bill 5607