Limiting Learning: How School Funding Caps Erode the Quality of Education. Briefing PaperReport as inadecuate

Limiting Learning: How School Funding Caps Erode the Quality of Education. Briefing Paper - Download this document for free, or read online. Document in PDF available to download.

Keystone Research Center

The Pennsylvania legislature is considering a school finance proposal, exemplified by House Bill 113 of the 2003 legislative session, that would shift some school funding away from local property taxes and toward state funds and local income taxes. The proposal would give greater proportional benefits to homeowners with lower property values. A shift toward broader-based and less regressive tax funding of the public schools would be admirable, as would the progressive nature of the proposed property tax relief. However, the proposal has two harmful features: (1) It would do virtually nothing to change the total revenue available to any school district in the state, but would simply replace some revenue that each district currently raises from local property taxes with revenue from local income taxes and additional state funds. In so doing, it would perpetuate Pennsylvania's current, highly inequitable pattern of school funding; and (2) It would impose a limit on increases in school tax rates in each district and prevent districts from obtaining additional revenue from new taxes. A district would be able to override these limits through voter approval in a referendum.One source of evidence is the research literature on outcomes in other states that have imposed limits on school taxes and funding. Although the details of limits imposed vary from state to state and no separate research analyzes proposals exactly like the Pennsylvania proposal, the literature on other states that have imposed limits is the best available gauge of the impact of a similar Pennsylvania proposal. This briefing paper reviews this research literature. (Contains 22 endnotes.)

Descriptors: Educational Finance, State Legislation, School Taxes, School District Wealth, School Funds, Tax Rates, Public Policy, Tax Allocation, Income, School Districts, Local Issues, Voting

Keystone Research Center. 412 North Third Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101. Tel: 717-255-7181; Web site:

Author: Wial, Howard


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