What is a referendum state? For years, several states outside of Indiana have funded their schools through a system know as “millage.” Voters convene annually to review and approve property tax rates set by the local school district.
Because of newly-minted constitutional limitations on the rate at which Indiana schools can tax property, more and more districts are likely to turn directly to voters to offset shortfalls in state funding.
But in 2010, more than half of all attempted referendum efforts in the state failed. According to a report release by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, a slightly higher percentage of general fund referendums passed than capital project fund referendums – meaning voters were more likely to support efforts to maintain programming and preserve teaching positions than they were to support new construction projects. In 2009, only six of 21 attempted referendums passed.
Prior to 2009, the data become less clear. For example, in 2008 only five districts attempted to raise additional dollars, all for construction projects. At that time, general fund referendums were relatively unheard of because districts could levy up to $2 million in bonds without turning to voters for approval.