Budget cuts lead to 1.6 billion in new school money on Ohio ballots
Governor Kasich’s first two-year budget for cut funding to education by $1.8 billion over the previous two-year period. This is in sharp contrast to his predecessor whose last budget actually marked the first time on record that the State provided more toward the cost of K-12 education funding than local property taxpayers.
In Kasich’s second budget, passed this summer, school funding remains $515 million below the amount districts received in 2010 and 2011. Fully 3 in 4 school districts must operate with fewer state resources than they received four years ago. Administration critics have repeatedly said that a cut of this size would hobble school districts and shift responsibility for adequate school funding from the state to local taxpayers in the form of higher property and/or income taxes.
To measure the indirect effects of these dramatic cuts in operating funding for schools, Innovation Ohio reviewed property and income tax levies on the Nov. 5 ballot and found that Ohio taxpayers will consider 72 levies – at a cost of nearly $260 million in additional taxes – to fund school operations.
Our research looked at any “new money” levies for operations that have appeared on local ballots since Gov. Kasich introduced his first budget in March, 2011. The numbers have become ever more staggering with each new election. From May, 2011 to November, 2013, Ohio voters will have considered an unprecedented $1.6 billion in new property and income taxes for schools. During the equivalent period of Governor Strickland’s term in office, voters considered $1.2 billion in new money for operations – an increase of 33%.
Using information on ballot issues from the Ohio Secretary of State, IO reviewed those levies which funded operations, classified as paying for current expenses, emergency operating money, or avoiding an operating deficit. In cases where capital and operating levies were combined, IO only included the operational portion of the levy.
To estimate the annual cost of property tax levies, IO multiplied the amount each district raises on one mill of property taxes — as reported in the most recent District Profile Report from the Ohio Department of Education — by the number of mills to be levied. For income tax levies, IO obtained official estimates of the amount each levy would raise through media reports or from district officials.
In order to limit our examination to funds local districts were trying to recover from the loss of operational money in the last two state budget, IO did not include bond issue, permanent improvement, replacement, or renewal levies. Capital projects, such as new school buildings, are not typically impacted by state operating budgets. Replacement and renewal levies generally go on the ballot because a current levy is expiring and voters must approve their continuation. These levies are not impacted as much by state budgets as new levies.