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MMAC launching ad campaign against MPS referendum

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(The Center Square) – Milwaukee’s chamber of commerce is the latest to speak out against the quarter-billion dollar referendum from Milwaukee Public Schools.

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce President Dale Kooyenga said they are launching the “Enough is Enough” ad campaign to urge people to vote against the referendum on the April ballot.

“Increasing taxes while Milwaukee families are paying more for everything – from gas to groceries – is simply wrong,” Kooyenga said.

The new ad campaign includes both radio and TV ads. Kooyenga and the MMAC are not saying just how much they are spending on the ads, or just where they will run. There is also a website for the “Enough is Enough” campaign.

Kooyenga said MPS has received hundreds of millions of dollars over the past few years yet test scores in the city’s schools are as bad as ever. He said the April referendum will reward Milwaukee Public Schools will more money for delivering consistently poor results.

“This referendum would result in an unaffordable property tax hike that will hit homeowners and renters directly in the pocket. Milwaukee Public Schools have wasted almost a billion dollars in new taxpayer funding in the last four years, including funds from a previous tax hike in 2020. Because of that, voters should vote no on April 2nd,” Kooyenga added.

The MMAC’s opposition comes about a week after one of Milwaukee’s business leaders, Northwestern Mutual CEO John Schlifske wrote an op-ed in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that also opposed the MPS tax hike.

“Less than five years ago, MPS passed an $87 million referendum which resulted in Milwaukee property taxes going up. In addition, the district received almost $800 million of one-time financial support from the federal government during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, quality went down as did attendance,” Schlifske wrote. “More money, worse results. MPS put an additional quarter-billion dollar referendum on the April 2 ballot, again which would be paid for through increased property taxes,” Schlifske wrote in his piece.

MPS managers say they need the extra $252 million to keep up with day-to-day operations and avoid cutting jobs or eliminating school programs.

Kooyenga said the referendum would result in a 30% property tax increase for people living in Milwaukee. That proposed tax increase would come just months after Milwaukee leaders added a new 2% city of Milwaukee sales tax, and after Milwaukee County leaders increased their portion of the countywide sales tax.

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