Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taxpayers to get a 'Sinking Feeling?'

In an obvious 'end run' and a clear violation of voters' intentions, the House and Senate introduced similar bills to allow school districts to use 'sinking funds' for any purpose the district wishes. HB4313, introduced by Mark Meadows (D) and SB84, introduced by Gretchen Whitmer (D) would allow school districts to use sinking fund taxes for a wider variety of purposes. According to Michiganvotes.org, under current law, sinking funds are permanent funds that may be used only for the purchase of land, or construction and (major) repair of school buildings. Regular school bonds may be used to fund a much wider array of activities. Schools are allowed to levy up to five mills for sinking funds. The expanded uses proposed by the bill potentially include items considered operating expenses or equipment such as new computers. This is not what voters intended when they passed Proposal "A" in 1994. The express intent at that time was to restrict sinking funds to construction and building remodeling and improvement.

While this action will have no impact on the state budget, it will potentially place a larger tax burden on property owners in districts that are able to convince the voters that they need more money than the School Aid Fund and local millages provide. This legislation is an obvious end-run by the public education lobby who has an insatiable appetite for more of the taxpayers' money.

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