Madison Metropolitan Exceed Revenue Limits (2008)

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The Madison Metropolitan Exceed Revenue Limits referendum was a school bond issue on the November 4 ballot in the Madison Metropolitan School District, which is in Dane County. The purpose of the referendum was to exceed the state-set revenue cap by the amount of $27,000,000 over the first three years and $13,000,000 every year thereafter, with the funds going to the school budget. The referendum language does not specify what the additional funds would be used for.

Breakdown of annual funding:

2009: $5,000,000
2010: $9,000,000
2011 and thereafter: $13,000,000
Total: $27,000,000 over the first three years, $13,000,000 every year thereafter

Text if measure

Be it resolved by the School Board of the Madison Metropolitan School District, Dane County, Wisconsin, that the revenues included in the School District budget be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, for recurring purposes by: $5,000,000 beginning in the 2009-2010 school year; an additional $4,000,000 beginning in the 2010-2011 school year (for a total of $9,000,000); and an additional $4,000,000 beginning in the 2011-2012 school year (for a total of $13,000,000 in 2011-2012 and each year thereafter).


Approved by 87,466 to 41,285.


  • The Madison Metropolitan School District has extensive material on their website outlining why they believe the measure to be necessary.[1]
  • The Wisconsin State Journal has endorsed the measure.[2]
  • The Capitol Times has endorsed the referendum.[3]
  • Madison Superintendent Daniel Nerad.[4]
  • The measure was "supported by three major groups — Community and Schools Together, Grandparents United for Madison Public Schools and Madison Teachers Inc., the teachers union, plus dozens of high school students who formed a group on the Facebook social networking Web site and worked for approval of the referendum."[5]

Arguments for the referendum include closing the budget gap created when budgets are capped at a 3% annual increase while teacher salaries and benefits are required to be increased by 3.8% annually (due to the Qualified Economic Offer),[6] and the "moral obligation to educate children."[7]


Active Citizens for Education (ACE) predicts that even if this referendum is approved the school board will be back to ask for more money, and criticizes the referendum for the lack of specificity on spending.[8][9]

Dorothy Borchardt, former City Council representative, is urging the school board to put off the referendum until spring of 2009, by which time she expects that they could provide a comprehensive cost analysis of school programming and spending. She contends that the district is not accurately representing the total costs of the measure. The compounding nature of the measures puts the three year cost at $27 million dollars, plus $13 million on a recurring basis for every year after 2011, rather than the $13 million total that the wording seems to suggest.[10]

Yearly Cost

The owner of a $250,000 home would pay an additional $28.00 on their property taxes in 2009, $71.00 more in 2010 and $92.00 more in 2011 and beyond for a annual increase of $191.00.[11]

Problem with Absentee Ballots

An unknown, but thought to be very small, amount of absentee ballots were made available to voters minus the referendum question. Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl has credited a "limited glitch in the state voter registration system" for the problem, and believes that less than 20 ballots were affected.[12]


Additional reading