Kasich Budget Leads to August Ballot Levies

On August 6, Ohio voters will once again head to the polls to consider local issues, including 10 requests for new operating money from school districts coping with four years of cuts in state funding.

After the 2012-2013 budget reduced funding for schools by $1.8 billion, the upcoming two-year budget still provides over $500 million less for districts than they received four years ago. Even with property tax collections rebounding post-recession, districts are finding it difficult to balance their budgets with cuts alone.

Below are the districts seeking new operating money on the August ballot (source: Ohio Secretary of State).

Aug2013_schoollevies
Some dollar amounts calculated by IO based on how much is raised on a mill in each district.

In total, these levies represent nearly $28 million in new taxes, if passed, which would bring to $1.37 billion the total amount of new operating money districts have sought since the first Kasich budget was introduced.

Ten is not an unusual number of new money levies for August – in 2012 the number was 18. Many districts likely held off until November to see what funding in the state budget looked like. In the first three years of Governor Kasich’s term, 46 new operating requests from school districts have appeared on August ballots statewide, compared to 29 during the same period in Governor Strickland’s term.

August, 2013 represents the last time communities and schools can benefit from a longstanding arrangement in which the state picks up 10% of the tax on residential property and 2.5% on owner-occupied homes. This tax “rollback” was eliminated in a final version of the state budget, and will mean that local taxpayers will need to make up for the lost 12.5% by paying more for future levies.

(Analysis by Education Policy Fellow, Stephen Dyer)