ST. PAUL (AP) -- Gov. Jesse Ventura wants to change Minnesota's tax system dramatically so the state would pay all costs of basic education for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Ventura's plan, to be submitted to the 2001 Legislature, would take K-12 schools off the local property tax bill, which could lower property taxes by one-third to one-half.
The state now pays 70 percent of basic education costs and school districts cover the rest through local property taxes.
To pay all of the basic school costs, the state would need to come up with an additional $900 million annually.
The proposal is intended to simplify the tax system and school funding so property owners can see exactly what they're paying for if districts vote to approve excess levies to pay for extras added to the basic system, Ventura said.
He said the proposal is not intended to create a huge tax cut, although that could happen.
If lawmakers go along with the idea, the shift would be the biggest change in Minnesota's tax system since 1971, when the state increased its share of K-12 funding to 65 percent, from 43 percent. That increase reduced property taxes up to 20 percent.
Since then, the state's share gradually increased another 5 percent.
No state now pays 100 percent of basic education costs. Hawaii comes closest, paying about 91 percent.
Ventura and his education, revenue and finance commissioners laid out the plan during an interview with the Star Tribune of Minneapolis. The governor acknowledged that the plan is not fully formed.
"These are broad pictures," he said. "There is nothing I've set on, nothing that is written in stone. It's just that we want to take a hard look at making a tax system that we think is more equitable, more fair and, most importantly, easier."
Taking K-12 education off the local property tax is a priority, Ventura said. Of the $900 million in K-12 funding now paid by local districts, $550 million comes from business property taxes.
Several possible ways to pay for the change are under consideration, Ventura said. Those possibilities include broadening the sales tax, assessing business fees, making further changes in how homes and businesses are taxed and cutting spending.
"Nothing is sacred or safe," he said.
The plan could face opposition from school districts and parents, as it probably would lead to less local control over schools and more state oversight. The proposal also could lead to statewide collective bargaining for teachers.
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