If you are a City of Racine property taxpayer, you would have seen on your tax bill a breakdown of how much money went to pay for children attending voucher schools, instead of private schools.
It showed that, for Racine taxpayers, out of $91.3 million that went to schools, $72.64 million went to Racine Unified and $18.64 million went to voucher schools.
Those who advocated for the breakdown say that it increases transparency by allowing taxpayers to better understand their taxes.
Transparency is a good thing, but not when it’s misleading.
If you look at that bill, it’s easy to think: “Wow. That is a lot of money we could be saving.” But that is not really the case. If those dollars weren’t going to voucher schools and those kids weren’t going to private schools, they would instead likely be going to public schools and then the dollars would go with them, meaning there wouldn’t be a savings for taxpayers.
In the future, Racine taxpayers may not be the only ones getting voucher-spending breakdowns on their tax bills.
Gov. Tony Evers has said he wants all Wisconsin property tax bills to show how much money taxpayers contribute to private-school vouchers.
Again we ask, if taxpayers are not paying for vouchers, is that money they will save?
We know that answer is no.
It seems subjective to decide that the one thing that needs to be broken out on tax bills is how much money is being spent on voucher schools.
It seems it’s an opportunity for special interests to start to overtly influence tax bills. It is a political tool.
There are a lot of things that could be broken out on a tax bill. How much is spent on criminal justice, the Department of Natural Resources, roads, universities, economic development?
All of those areas are important — just as important as funds that go to fund vouchers.
For those concerned about school funding, the discussion can and will continue. But breaking out one number on every tax bill is misleading and is not the right solution.