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WILL launches tax hike price calculator to oppose MPS referendum

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(The Center Square) – The latest opposition to Milwaukee Public Schools’ proposed quarter-billion-dollar tax hike is a calculator.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on Tuesday launched its property tax calculator to let people in Milwaukee know just how much more they will pay if the $252 million tax increase passes in April.

“I think the median home value in Milwaukee is around $170,000. It’s about a $367 tax increase,” WILL’s Kyle Koenen told The Center Square. “When you really look at the demographics of Milwaukee, that’s sizable. I think 24% of Milwaukee is in poverty, and the median household income is under $50,000. That’s a sizable chunk for most families.”

MPS says it needs the money to avoid deep cuts to school programs.

But Koenen said Milwaukee Public Schools have seen record amounts of money, mostly from the federal government, over the past few years.

And Koenen said MPS is asking for money at the same time it is losing students and delivering some of the worst reading and writing scores in the state.

“MPS has a track record of failing kids and I think you know whenever they go to the taxpayers they should have a definitive plan of how this is going to improve achievement and based on their track record they passed a sizable referendum in 2020 things haven’t measurably improved over that time and I think voters are right to ask how is it how many to get more bang for my buck out of this,” Koenen said.

MPS schools are ranked in the bottom 1% of public schools in the state and have the worst racial learning gap in the United States.

Koenen said, given those flaws, MPS leaders should be out selling their tax hike as a path forward.

“MPS has said that ‘We need to pass this referendum, and then we’ll get a report on how we can consolidate schools after that.’ That seems like pretty basic stuff, that before you’re going to go to voters and ask them for a quarter of a billion dollars annually, you should have a plan and really exhaust all options and try to right-size the district,” Koenen said.

WILL’s tax hike calculator can be found here.

WILL’s opposition to MPS’s tax hike proposal comes after Milwaukee’s chamber, and one the CEO of Northwestern Mutual Insurance also came out in opposition to the referendum.

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