Monday, October 2, 2017

Ohio Now at Historically High Reliance on Local Taxpayers to Pay for Schools

Twenty years ago, the Ohio Supreme Court issued the first of four rulings determining that the way Ohio paid for schools was unconstitutional because it relied too much on local property taxes, putting kids in Ohio's less wealthy districts at a decided disadvantage. That school year -- 1996-1997 -- saw the largest difference between state-local share of education in history at 55.02 percent local, 44.98 percent state.

Twenty years later, after two decades of narrowing the gap and even overcoming it in the 2010-2011 school year, Ohio once again has achieved that exact state-local split.

According to the Ohio Department of Education's latest revenue data, Ohio has once again provided 44.98 percent of the funding for Ohio's school children, with the local taxpayers having to come up with 55.02 percent.

If you don't include the $935 million transferred to charter schools last year, that local share percentage jumps to more than 57 percent for local school district taxpayers.

This means that after four Supreme Court cases and 20 years of arguments, Ohio's legislature has done, essentially, nothing to address this most important of issues. In fact, if you include lost state revenue to charter schools and private school vouchers over the last 20 years, the legislature has actually made the reliance on local property taxes worse since the first case was decided.

There is only one thing the Ohio Constitution says the legislature has to do: fund schools. And for 20 years, this General Assembly hasn't performed its only basic function.

How sad for our kids.

Starting in the 2012-2013 school year, the Ohio Department of Education split the local revenue data it had always collected into local revenue and "other non-tax revenue". However, that designation had previously always been included in the local revenue calculation. So in order to do a longitudinal analytic comparison with years prior to 2012-2013, I added the "other non-tax revenue" with the local revenue, as ODE had always done prior to 2012-2013.


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