This posting was originally made on June 26, 2008. Since that time, there has been an extended conversation going on in the comments. In order to bring those comments more to the light, I am updating this to bring it forward from the June archives.
HIDDEN CONSEQUENCES: LESSONS FROM MASSACHUSETTS FOR STATES CONSIDERING A PROPERTY TAX CAP, is a report issued by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May. In part, it summarizes:
“Across Massachusetts, a number of communities have been forced to lay off teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees; close fire stations; shut libraries, senior centers, and recreation centers or sharply reduce their hours; and scale back public school programs. One town even turned off its street lights to save money,” said Iris Lav, the Center’s deputy director and co-author of the report.
According to the report, Proposition 2 ½, which limits the growth in communities’ property tax revenue for all services including education to 2.5 percent a year, has:
- Arbitrarily constrained local revenues without considering the actual cost of providing services. “The fundamental problem with property tax caps is that they don’t make public services any less expensive,” said Lav. ”Costs like employee health insurance and special education are largely beyond localities’ control, and they’re rising much faster than the cap allows. Nor does the cap hold down the cost of heating buildings and operating school buses when oil prices are skyrocketing.” When these things occur, as they have in Massachusetts, other services have to be cut to fit total expenditures under the cap.
Read the full posting on the Franklin School Committee blog
Read the full report as referenced here