|Fri, Jan 19, 2018 11:24 AM
|Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
There is some talk circulating that the Kentucky General Assembly may do an encore of sorts to a part of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act, a/k/a KERA, which allowed local school districts to sidestep, temporarily, limitations on increasing their local tax rates.
A nickel is too little, but not too late
Presumably, a bill will be filled for legislative review in the regular 2004 session that will let school districts hike their tax rates by a nickel, no matter how that increase matches up to the current restriction that says public agencies can get just four percent more revenue from one year to the next without asking the permission of taxpayers.
When KERA was enacted in 1990, the four percent limit was suspended temporarily to allow, no, to require state school districts to increase their rates, where necessary, to a minimum of 30 cents per $100 valuation.
After that one-time hike was enacted around the state, the four percent limit kicked back into gear.
The tax increase limitations were implemented with taxpayers in mind, but legislators did not account for the weak wills of many politicians when they set that standard.
Few public agencies in these parts can find the political nerve to take the increase available to them, and they fall victim quickly to inflation.
What legislators should have done when they said public agencies could raise revenues by just four percent from one year to the next is say they MUST raise revenues by four percent from one year to the next.
That would have taken the heat...if there is any...off local politicians, and it would likely have prevented the money problems we are seeing now in many governmental arenas.
And, if legislators really want to make progress in school funding next year, they should amend the four-percent ceiling law to make it a mandatory increase every year...at least for school districts.
The proposed nickel hike, if left to local politicians to enact, won't ever happen in places where it should because it will become a political issue, rather than a financial one.
Our schools need more financial support, but many won't get it if it isn't mandated from Frankfort.