ST. PAUL, Minn. – The teachers unions in St. Paul are yet again pushing for higher property taxes to make up for lost funding at the state level.
In spite of the fact that the current property tax levy is not set to expire for another two years, union representatives negotiating a new contract have demanded increased funding in an effort to produce “racially equitable schools” reports the Pioneer Press. The current levy already accounts for eight percent of the school district’s $522 million budget.
While teachers and St. Paul Schools’ Superintendent Joe Gothard believe the state did not provide enough money for the district this year, it is worth noting that the state increased educational aid for public K-12 education by $483 million last session. The Pioneer Press reported at the time that it is in spite of this new funding, not because of it, that schools are floundering.
Back in mid-June the Pioneer Press reported that the collective budget for schools in and around the Twin Cities is running at a $92 million deficit. St. Paul and its suburbs, 10 school districts in total, account for a shade under half of that deficit, with $44 million in deficits for those districts.
Prior to that revelation, Alpha News reported in January that Minneapolis Public Schools ran at a deficit of $21 million in 2016. That covers just one district.
In addition, the Pioneer Press also reports that teachers in St. Paul have a disproportionately high salary. The average teacher in the district made $76,682 last year, more than any other district in the state, and 29 percent higher than the average of all teachers statewide.
St. Paul is already looking at a number of ways to subsidize their growing spending problem. Non-profits may soon be the next to experience hardship on this front, as the city has actively explored the possibility of fees for these usually tax-exempt entities.