ON-Lion Letter
When City of Milwaukee residents received their property tax bills in mid-December, they also received a flyer informing them what portion of their Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) levy is funding the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP).

As Mike Ford points out in a Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) blog post, "Transparency is good, but it is worth mentioning that the fact that a portion of the MPS levy goes to fund some of the MPCP is not news."  Ford is the research director at WPRI, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

"More important, paying for a portion of the choice program in and of itself is not a bad deal for Milwaukee taxpayers," Ford continues.  "About 17% of the levy pays for the local cost of the choice program ($49.6 million out of $297.8 million), which educates about 21% of Milwaukee's levy-supported students (23,198 out of 110,351).  And lest we forget, in supporting the MPCP Milwaukee taxpayers are supporting schools producing higher graduation rates than MPS. ...

"The fact that the Milwaukee taxpayer pays for a portion of the choice program is not any kind of flaw," he adds.  "The pamphlet included in my tax bill is unrelated to what the mayor and others have deemed the funding flaw.  The term refers to the fact that Milwaukee does not get to count the portion of MPCP pupils supported by the MPS levy for purposes of property valuation.  Counting the kids would shift more aid to Milwaukee and lower the tax levy.

"The funding flaw is a legitimate taxpayer issue," Ford concludes, "but it has nothing to do with education.  MPS does not get to spend more if the flaw is addressed.  The bigger question I have is why have Milwaukee legislators not solved this issue they profess to care so much about?"
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