Larry DeBoer

This year’s first round of school funding referenda includes 10 school corporations, with a handful of the schools asking voters for more funding for the first time.

Candidates aren’t the only ones with high hopes during election season, as schools turn to voters for more funding support. This November there are a dozen school construction and operations referenda up for consideration – that’s more than any other November election since 2010.

But local tax expert and Purdue professor of agricultural economics Larry DeBoer says school referenda are still pretty rare statewide. About 60 percent of districts have never asked voters to approve additional funding for their schools.

The first wave of 2018 school funding referenda are up for consideration in about two weeks. That means voters in several counties will have the power to approve or deny tax measures to make millions of dollars available for their local schools.

Purdue University economics professor Larry DeBoer says school funding referenda are usually more likely to pass in May, and the overall number of those winning voter approval has grown in recent years.

 

A new study from Purdue University on the effects of the state’s new method for taxing farmland shows what rural areas will take the biggest hit from the change.

Indiana taxes farmland mainly on the value of crops the soil can produce. But that calculation has lagged behind the current crop market.

It based farmland property assessments on 4-year-old crop prices, meaning taxes climbed even as farm revenues began to decline.

Threat Of Trade War Could Impact Indiana Industries

Dec 20, 2016

 

President-elect Donald Trump is doubling down on his criticisms of U.S. trade relationships with China and Mexico, which has some wondering if a trade war is in the works.

Purdue University economist Larry DeBoer says the hallmark of a trade war is retaliation.

For example, higher U.S. taxes on Chinese steel imports could make China chooser to buy fewer American products, including those from Indiana, like soybeans or engine parts.

But DeBoer says even threat of a trade war is already affecting Hoosiers.

Jashin Lin / WTIU News

As the May 3 Indiana primary approaches, ten school districts across the state are asking voters to raise taxes to fund school projects.

In November 2008, Indiana’s public school districts began posing more and more school funding questions to their communities on the ballot – should taxes be raised to fund a certain construction project or boost the district’s general fund? If a referendum passes, the property taxes increase by a specified amount for a specific period of time. They were rare before the property tax cap. Since November 2008, there have been 128.

David Cornwell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/dave_cornwell/14959884063

Legislators are struggling to control rising property taxes on farmland. Farmland is taxed not on what it would be worth to someone else, but its productivity as farmland.

But Purdue agricultural economist Larry DeBoer says those assessments are four years out of date -- the state delayed assessments by two years after the Supreme Court threw out the old system in 1998, and has never caught up.

Phil Roeder / https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/

History shows most of the school referenda that pass, pass in May – they have about a 50-percent success rate in Indiana. This could be because voters don’t want to pay more taxes, but some experts also point to a lack of understanding about what the additional tax money would pay for.

Thirteen Hoosier school districts are asking for 18 separate tax levy increases on the primary ballot – a mix of construction and general fund supplements.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA

Second-generation West Lafayette farmer Kevin Underwood has three tractors he uses to farm 1,600 acres of land – one is several decades old, another he bought just a few years ago. But while his 30 year old tractor still works well, Underwood says the system taxing what that tractor produces does not.

“The bind we’re in at this point is we’ve got income level going down and taxes and input costs continuing to go up,” Underwood says.