Impact of governor's tax cut depends on school district

Plan puts $100 million in to lower property taxes

Published On: Oct 11 2013 06:27:21 PM CDT   Updated On: Oct 11 2013 09:59:53 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

School districts in Dane County say they don't yet know how a property tax proposal will affect taxpayers. But one group is doing some preliminary math, and they say Gov. Scott Walker's tax cut proposal won't cut taxes in some districts at all.

The governor's plan would put $100 million into the state school equalization aid formula to draw down property taxes. The formula bases how much districts get in aid each year on their property values.

Because of that formula, the Taxpayers Alliance analysis said Friday that 65 of 425 districts would get no benefit from the tax cut, and 197 districts would see a school levy cut of 1 percent or less. The rest of the districts would see a cut of 1 percent or more, with the highest expected cut at 1.2 percent.

Taxpayers Alliance President Todd Berry said some districts are getting no benefit because they get too much or too little state aid. Madison and Middleton, he said, fall in the middle and may see aid increases of anywhere from 4-5 percent for Madison or 7-8 percent for Middleton. But those aid increases won't translate to a levy cut of much more than 1 percent.

Berry also said the rest of a homeowner's tax bill may wipe away any cut.

"If you have a municipality or a county that's for some reason able to increase the property tax a lot, then whatever this little amount is, if it does reduce the property tax, they may not see it at all," said Berry. "It may just get lost in the shuffle."

Berry says this isn't the first time a governor has used this tax-cut tactic. He says Gov. Jim Doyle did a very similar move of sending property tax relief through the school aid formula before running for re-election in 2006.

Walker told reporters in La Crosse Friday that it's the fact that his administration and the Legislature are cutting taxes that counts.

"It's not so much about the dollar amount, it's the fact that three years in a row we have seen property taxes go down in the state," said Walker.

The figures the Taxpayers Alliance are using are preliminary figures, and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau said it would be giving more definite figures as school aid numbers are provided by the Department of Public Instruction next week.

The property tax cut bill was formally introduced in the Legislature Friday afternoon and is scheduled for a hearing and a vote in the Joint Finance Committee at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. The full Senate will likely take up the bill later on Tuesday, with the Assembly to follow.

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