AEFP 45th Annual Conference Program
Chair:, University of Pennsylvania
Chair:, Reason Foundation
Chair:, Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University
Chair:, New York University
Chair:, University of Michigan
Chair:, AIR & U. of WA
Chair:, University of Washington
Chair:, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Chair:, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
The property tax plays a key role in the funding of public education in the U.S. In 2015-16, about 45 percent of the total revenue supporting elementary and secondary education came from local governments, and 81 percent of the local share came from property taxes. A central tenant of education finance in the U.S. is local control. A robust role for local funding is important if local citizens, through their school board or local referenda, are going to have a meaningful voice in the operation of local schools. The consensus among public finance scholars is that the property tax has many positive at-tributes as a local government tax. The immobility of property means that it is a more efficient source of local tax revenue than local sales, earnings, or income taxes. While there is still no consensus concerning the incidence of the property tax, many scholars argue that the property tax is more progressive than most sales and excise taxes. Property taxes are levied on both residential and non-residential property, but local income taxes are generally restricted only to residents. While within-state variations in property tax bases can lead to school funding inequities, there is no evidence that local government sales and income tax bases are more equal.
Despite its positive attributes, citizen complaints about property taxation have led most state legisla-tures to enact a variety of property tax limitations—on the property tax base, on rates, or on reve-nues. During the past few years, legislative proposals in several states have called for the complete or partial elimination of the school property tax. Other states have enacted new limitations on school property tax revenues.
Here lies the dilemma. In light of these ongoing attacks on the property tax, how do we (local school boards, state governments, and the federal government) assure that there is adequate funding for public education while maintaining a significant degree of fiscal autonomy for local school districts?
To investigate this dilemma and to explore possible solutions, this Policy Talk session will include speakers from three states that have enacted various types of property tax limitations. They will each describe the ways in which their state restricted property taxation and the efforts taken to ensure continued funding for public education. They will then assess the effectiveness of those efforts and suggest possible policy reforms to ensure adequate funding for public education on an ongoing basis.
Chair:, Nevada Department of Education
Debating the Merits and Pitfalls of Stronger, More Prescriptive Versus More Localized, Support-Orientated Approaches to Implementing ESSA’s Evidence Provisions
The bipartisan 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which authorizes the largest federal K-12 education programs, is at its core a civil rights law that for the first time encourages, and in some cases requires, states and school districts to build and use evidence of effectiveness to improve opportunities and outcomes, especially for our nation’s most vulnerable children.
These landmark evidence provisions, however, will have little or no positive effect on outcomes or opportunities if they aren’t implemented well at the state, school district, and school levels. What form exactly, implementation can or should take is largely left up to state education agency leaders, who, under ESSA, have considerable discretion when it comes to how their state will improve outcomes for learners, and the extent to which evidence will inform their approaches.
The talk will explore an assumption central to the potential success of the federal ESSA evidence provisions: If education leaders successfully redirect limited federal, state, and local resources toward evidence-based solutions - including investing in evidence-building activities to grow the evidence base - then we will successfully shift the way adults in the system behave (e.g. use data and evidence more rigorously and consistently) and, by extension, see positive impacts on student outcomes - with a particular emphasis on how investing in evidence-based approaches can bring about change and impact in rural communities.