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As I See It

Property tax bills should list costs of voucher schools

Scott Robert Shaw



When people in Wisconsin get their annual property tax bill, they typically have little idea where all their hard-earned money is going. Some of it is broken down. For La Crosse taxpayers, the tax bills outline how much of their property taxes is going to fund their city and county governments, as well as their local school district, and the technical colleges. But what they don’t see is the cost of funding the state’s growing voucher school program. Vouchers allow Wisconsin students to enroll in private schools at taxpayer expense. The number of students enrolled in the program continues to grow, as have the costs to taxpayers, to the tune of $300 million per year. But individual taxpayers have no clue how much of their tax money goes to fund those voucher schools. That is why some state lawmakers want to require that individual property tax bills include a breakdown of how much of their taxes are going to fund private education. By requiring the numbers, taxpayers would be able to see how much more money their local schools would be receiving, instead of being funneled to students seeking a private education. They would see that voucher schools bleed valuable resources from public schools, pushing up property taxes and forcing more school districts to turn to voters for more money in referendums. Requiring the numbers seems reasonable. That would provide more transparency about how our tax money is being spent. And who could argue with that?

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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    Don Fruit

    May 31, 2019 at 9:32 am

    A simpler solution would be to exempt all families who send their children to a private school from paying local school taxes during the years they have school aged children. When they no longer have school aged children they can once again be forced to “subsidize” the public school system.

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    May 31, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    Please also indicate the amount that public education is subsidized by the cost spent by non-voucher students attending private schools. If private education goes away those students would be added to the public school population with a corresponding increase in the amount needed for public education..

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