In the early 1990s, voters in Oregon were feeling some tax anxiety.
Property values were rising, and many worried that also meant a rise in property taxes. And so, with something called Measure 5, they capped them.
Since schools depend heavily on property taxes, Oregon did something unique. The state decided to use income tax revenue to help offset the effect of this new property-tax cap.
There’s just one problem: In tough economic times, income is more volatile than property values. And so began a roller coaster for Oregon’s schools.
The story of Oregon’s school funding challenges is part of the NPR reporting project School Money, a nationwide collaboration between NPR’s Ed Team and 20 member station reporters exploring how states pay for their public schools and why many are failing to meet the needs of their most vulnerable students.