A group trying to expand publicly funded preschool and child care through a series of property tax hikes in St. Paul submitted petitions on Wednesday in hopes of getting the proposal on the November ballot.
SPARK (St. Paul All Ready for Kindergarten) claims to have presented over 13,000 signatures on Wednesday and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. To place the tax hikes on the ballot, approximately 12,000 valid signatures are required.
In a press release, city councilmember Rebecca Noecker said, “We are optimistic that the almost universal support we’ve received from every area of the community will far surpass the signatures we need to be on the ballot in November.”
The proposal would increase property taxes in the city by $2.6 million over the next ten years.
According to SPARK, by year ten, the $26 million program will have completely funded two years of preschool or child care for families earning less than 185 percent of the federal poverty threshold, which covers 63 percent of the city’s children, while giving sliding-scale discounts to higher earners.
The $2.6 million is a 1.5 percent increase in the municipal levy for this year, or roughly $20 per year for the average homeowner. It would cost households roughly $200 per year after ten years.
The funds would be distributed to a wide range of institutions, including schools and Head Start programs, as well as child care facilities and home-based daycares, regardless of whether they have achieved quality ratings from the state’s Parent Aware program.