The lawn sign “I Want School Tax Off My Property” campaign is attracting public attention. One homeowner called WinnipegREALTORS® asking for signs not only for his property, but also some for his neighbours. His street now has a head start on the candidate signage for the provincial election campaign.
More homeowners will undoubtedly take up the message and challenge candidates to explain their position on taxing property owners to pay for education.
As the campaign progresses, more Manitobans will become aware of the Manitoba Education Financing Coalition, which is providing information about the unfairness of the current government’s reliance on property to fund one-third of education costs. For example, if you live in Winnipeg, school taxes represent 54 per cent of all property taxes collected on homes and businesses.
Farmers, REALTORS®, business leaders, cottage owners and homeowners stood shoulder to shoulder in a Manitoba farmyard as they each picked up one of hundreds of lawn signs that call on Manitoba politicians to get education tax off the property tax bill.
The members of the Manitoba Education Financing Coalition were handing out the “I Want School Tax Off My Property” lawn signs at the farmyard of Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, at the launch of the letspayfair.com 2011 campaign.
“If the candidates think that the small changes we’ve seen in education tax since the last election answer the call from Manitobans to pay fairly, they are wrong,” said Chorney.
“Over the last few years the Province has played with removing ‘this education levy’ and increasing ‘that education credit’ in a complicated game to fund education from property taxes. Let’s make this simple and get education taxes off property,” Chorney added.
Lorne Weiss, president of the Manitoba Real Estate Association and chair of the coalition, said each of the political parties needs to commit to funding education much differently.
“We know the province is trying to reduce education tax,” he said, “but right now it’s still only funding 65 per cent of the cost of operating our schools, the rest is coming from property owners. The province would tell you they are close to 80 per cent. But to get to that figure the province has bundled several things together like the costs for building schools, contributing to teacher pension funds and tax credits. Today we’re calling on all the political parties to commit to a real 80/20 formula in this next term of government with a goal to fund 100 per cent of education from general revenues and Manitoba Hydro reserves in the long term.”
In addition to putting up lawn signs, voters can also send an electronic letter to their local politicians from the letspayfair.com website. During the last provincial election, almost 2,000 Manitobans took advantage of the electronic letter that allowed them to easily express their concerns. As a result, every political party took notice and had a position on education tax in their platforms.
Also present at the launch of letspayfair.com 2011 were Dave Crabb, president of the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners (MACO), Peter Squire, public affairs director for Winnipeg REALTORS®, and Ken Jones, vice-chair of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.
The Manitoba Education Financing Coalition, a group of 40 organizations representing 250,000 Manitobans, support letspayfair.com, recommends that education be supported through the province’s general revenues — that way Manitobans can all pay a fair share to support the education of the next generation.