..issued some of his most pointed comments to date, saying the state can no longer afford to rely on the local property tax to fund public education.
“It seems to me the time is at hand, and the appetite is right among you and the folks you represent and so many others, to get back to basics and figure out how to do this right,” Patrick said. “The property tax is not working.”
The Globe story also reported:
Under the existing system, school districts are financed with a combination of local property taxes and state aid, which is distributed by a highly complex formula that has long been subject to legislative tussles over how much different communities receive… currently, the state covers less than 40 percent of the cost of local education, with cities and towns picking up the rest through the property tax. While it is a stable source of revenue, it places a sometimes difficult burden on the elderly or people with fixed incomes, and some argue it increases the disparity between communities based on personal income and property value.
What the Globe story did not report is that the “highly complex formula” is also highly re-distributive. It channels state education funding towards poorer communities and away from wealthier ones. State aid provides 40% of education funding statewide, but it provides over 80% of the school budget for the poorest cities, but less than 20% for the wealthiest towns (click the chart above).
The chart above shows the 10 lowest and 10 highest districts in terms of the percentage of state aid in their target budgets. There are many other (generally wealthier) towns also operating at the same 82.5% fraction of local school funding.
The formula is based on both the total assessed value of property in each district and the total personal income in each district. These are factored into a “local contribution” that is limited to a maximum of 82.5% (click the picture below).
The details of these calculations are online in a spreadsheet maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Education. See this page and the item entitled “Complete formula spreadsheet.”
Though the Globe is correct to say that the formula is complex, the formula is essentially a re-distribution of educational funding. Failure to report this fundamental aspect of state aid for education is either negligent or distorted reporting.
The Governor claimed that “the property tax is not working”. But the property tax represents only 20 cents out of every dollar spent on schools in
In general wealthier communities, rather than poor ones, are the ones who now rely more on the local property tax to fund their schools.