School Cuts: the problem isn't property taxes

"Sorry, little Tommy, but Mrs. Jones has to leave you to start bagging groceries."

  • Image by the U.S. Census Bureau, via Wikimedia Commons
  • "Sorry, little Tommy, but Mrs. Jones has to leave you to start bagging groceries."

Following recent news that drops in property tax revenues may lead to the shuttering of six public libraries in Indianapolis, School Board President Michael Brown says it's property tax shortfalls that are eviscerating our schools as well.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brown in misinformed.

The Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) board unanimously approved $26.8 million in cuts to the 2010 budget Tuesday night. The cuts amount to 4.5 percent of IPS operating budget.

As reported yesterday, by WIBC, Brown says the culprit is familiar:

Michael Brown tells the 93 WIBC Indy Morning News all one needs to do is look at property tax collections.

"I know that property tax collections have not been at the 100-percent level, so there are probably more cuts that are coming in the future," Brown said.

But the revenue shortfalls expected for 2011 (which require IPS to make cuts ahead of time, for the 2010-2011 school year) actually have nothing to do with property taxes at this point, because IPS hasn’t received “new” property tax money since 2008.

Which means one of two things is happening: Either Brown is defaulting to an easy and familiar scapegoat, or he has no idea what’s going on with his own budget. Neither prospect is particularly encouraging.


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