Thursday, April 24, 2003
TAX WATCHDOG LIKES MAXWELL PLAN
WITH A FEW 'TWEAKS'
Here's a letter from Wally Fritsch, an Omaha tax watchdog, who suggests a few changes to the plan proposed by Sen. Chip Maxwell of Omaha to shift state aid to education to one per-pupil sum instead of all different ones. Overall, though, Fritsch urges support for the Maxwell plan in the Legislature's education, appropriations and revenue committees, and with other senators.
I have received the proposal from Senator Chip Maxwell concerning his approach to the budget problem and education funding and have read it for concept.
I have found some items on the downside which, in my opinion, needing clarification or revision:
-- On his proposal to fund schools on a per-student sum only: first, the count should be on the average daily attendance only. A head count is more accurate than enrollment padding.
-- Objections to the unit funding must be made after a performance audit by the State Auditor to verify any claim of under funding.
-- Special education and alternative education will be a separate funding by the state. There must be guide lines established for qualification of these students.
-- The tax base of one half of real property value + income to fund education may be questionable from some aspects.
On the upbeat side there are some good points of great value to both education and taxpayers:
-- The plan would encourage consolidation of small districts to eliminate administration costs or merge districts.
-- Efficiency of schools would improve because of the uniform funding of all students.
-- Equity of funding will be positive and eliminate possible claims of court actions to get more.
-- The "Social Engineering" factor incorporated in the present special education programs would be removed from the schools and managed by state programs.
-- The total education taxation would be based on actual need if the program of performance audits is demanded by the legislature.
-- Lobbying efforts by educators, which we pay for, would be curtailed or eliminated.
-- The time delay incorporated by the 2004-05 year funding lapse would give the Legislature time to place a long term working program in effect.
Please contact your State Senator and ask for support of Senator Maxwell's proposal.
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