Khaled Elfiqi / Landov
Ohio school districts can now ask voters to approve new taxes to be used just for “school safety and security” under a provision in the new state budget.
“It allows the local school district along with their community to decide what is necessary as far as what they want to do as far as they want to pay for,” [Ohio School Boards Association spokesman Michelle Francis] says.
And often, voters are more likely to approve money for police and fire departments than for schools, Borgerding reports:
A review of local tax issues on Ohio’s November 2010 general election ballot, during the depths of the Great Recesssion, gives some clues as to what voters “want to pay for.” Rates of passage for levies for police and fire protection were nearly double the rate of passage for local school operations. Results from elections in 2011 and 2012 also show voters more willing to pass levies linked to police and fire protection than to education.
While this new type of levy could make it easier for districts to get voter approval for school safety purposes, another change in the state budget is likely to make it harder for schools to pass new levies.
As we reported earlier:
As part of a bigger program of tax cuts, the budget removes a state subsidy for local school levies. The state used to pick of 12.5 percent of the cost of new or replacement levies from its general fund, which is mostly sales- and income-tax revenue.
That pick-up is going away. Without the state subsidy, supporters say, the full cost of local levies will become more transparent but that will likely make it harder for districts to sell voters on approving levies.