State Share of School Costs Drops to 61.7%, Even as Property Tax Levy Declines
For many years, a state law required the Legislature to provide schools enough funding through grants and the school levy credit to cover two-thirds of school costs (excluding the federal share). Even after that statute was repealed in 2003, lawmakers sought to come as close to possible to the two-thirds level. However, a paper released Thursday by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) illustrates that the state level of support for K-12 education fell well below that level in 2011-12.
According to the LFB paper, the state share dropped to 61.7% in the last fiscal year, compared to 63% in 2010-11, and 63.9% in 2009-10. The non-federal share of school financing (referred to as “partial school revenues”) fell by $501 million in 2011-12, or 5.1% – as state support dropped by $432 million and local property tax revenue declined by $69 million. The reduced property tax revenue can be attributed in large part to the state-imposed cut in the per student revenue caps, but it also reflects local political pressure not to raise levies at a time when property values were falling in many communities.
The LFB paper includes district-by-district statistics on local property tax levies for schools, the amount of state aid and levy credits, and the percentage of the “partial school revenues” supported by the state.