Legislature discusses school finance challenges

April 30, 2015

The House and Senate are considering several pieces of legislation that would reduce the state general fund responsibility to school funding and place additional pressure on local property taxpayers. The House and Senate have each passed legislation expanding the use of the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy or PPEL. When first passed by the legislature the intent was to take care of building needs, but since then legislation has allowed technology, transportation and this year House File 646 proposes to expand the use to transportation repairs. Another piece of legislation that impacts local property taxpayers is House Study Bill 240, which seeks to address per pupil inequities by allowing school districts to use their cash reserves in budget crunch situations. The bill is receiving mixed reviews by taxpayer groups and receiving support from school boards and labor organizations.