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WPF issues report on school referenda

From Wisconsin Policy Forum: “Voters across Wisconsin approved 62 of the 103 school district referenda placed on primary and general election ballots this spring. The 60.2% approval rate was the lowest in a midterm or presidential election year since 2010, with the most ballot questions for spring elections since at least 2000. More districts asked to increase property taxes for operations rather than capital needs, a sign of the stress they are facing from inflation, state caps on their revenues, declining enrollment, and the expiration of federal pandemic aid.

Across ballots from February and April, 66.0% of all referendum questions asked voters to raise property taxes to support school district operations. This represents the highest share of operating referenda since at least 2000.

Yet as districts’ requests for additional revenue have intensified, voter support for these requests appears to be waning. Voter approval rates of school district referenda hovered around 50% for most of the late 2000s and early 2010s. Starting in 2012, however, voters approved referenda in greater numbers, with the passage rate peaking at 89.7% in 2018. (more…)