Voter Control of Public School Expenditures

A key question for taxpayers is whether the proposal would strengthen their control over their local school expenditures. Since school millage is both the largest source of property taxes, and the most rapidly growing, this concern is crucial.

At first glance, the expansion of the nonvoted "allocated" mills to 18 would reduce taxpayer control. This is clearly the case in the handful of school districts which currently levy less than 18 mills.[19] However, for the large majority of school districts, the proposal would increase the taxpayers' control over local school district expenditures, for the following reasons:

  1. The allowance of 18 nonvoted mills means that voters will only make decisions on marginal expenditure increases, up to an additional 9 mills. School districts will not be able to combine their millage requests into an "all or nothing" proposition, and would not be able to threaten voters with closure of the entire school system if a millage request fails at the ballot.

  2. The proposal, in a little-noted sentence, restricts school districts to no more than two millage elections each year. This eliminates the practice of continually asking the voters to approve a millage until they are finally worn down.

  3. By establishing a uniform statewide per-pupil guarantee, "A" would enable taxpayers to more easily see the actual expenditures of their school district and compare them to others.