Farmers, REALTORS®, business leaders, cottage owners and homeowners stood shoulder to shoulder in a Manitoba farm yard 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.
In Manitoba, one-third of education funding comes from property taxes taken from residential, business and farmland. And if you live in Winnipeg school taxes represent 54 percent of all property taxes collected on homes and business. 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, but right now it’s still only funding 65 percent of the cost of operating our schools, the rest is coming from property owners. The province would tell you they are close to 80 percent. 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,” Weiss says.
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, Director of Public Affairs, of Winnipeg REALTORS® Association and Ken Jones, Vice-Chair of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.