School Funding Mechanisms and Property Tax (In)Equity
Julien Lafortune

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Public Policy Institute of California

Primary Discipline

Inequities in local school funding have motivated a long history of research, advocacy, and litigation. Past research indicates reform efforts have reduced or eliminated spending inequities, lifting short- and long-run outcomes for the less advantaged communities they targeted. However, we have limited data on the tax burdens facing local communities under varying school finance regimes. In many states, property tax rates may be regressive, even where overall school funding is not. In this project, I provide new time series evidence on tax rate progressivity across and within states. Relying on property tax assessment records, local municipal boundaries, and school district revenue files, I will estimate effective tax rates as a share of assessed property values—and implied tax rates as a share of market-rate valuations. Descriptive methods will decompose tax rates across time and place and identify correlations with specific school finance mechanisms. Differences-in-differences and synthetic control methods will be used to estimate causal impacts of school finance reforms on tax revenue progressivity, on average and heterogeneously by reform type. Findings will advance the school finance literature and inform school finance policy debates about state-level funding and revenue mechanisms.
About Julien Lafortune
Lafortune, Julien
Julien Lafortune is a research fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, where he specializes in education and economics. He is also a member of the PPIC Economic Policy Center. His primary areas of research focus include K–12 education finance, school infrastructure, human capital, and labor market policy. He has authored policy reports, briefs, presentations, and blogs on a variety of policy topics, including K–12 education, labor market issues, demographics, and housing markets. He has published academic research papers on school finance reforms and school capital investments in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics and the American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings. Julien earned the Jean Flanigan Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Association of Education Finance and Policy for his work studying the impacts of school finance policies. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

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