First Advisor

Jerry W. Lansdowne

Term of Graduation

Fall 1978

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Urban Studies


Urban Affairs




Education -- Oregon -- Portland -- Finance, Tax incidence -- Oregon -- Portland, Government aid to education -- Oregon



Physical Description

4, xiii, 297 pages


Within the past decade the emphasis in school finance research has been toward formulating financing models to solve the inequities in educational opportunity. School finance research has concentrated, generally, on structuring school finance alternatives based on school district fiscal behavior. However, these studies did not analyze in detail the school finance alternatives' impacts on the individual taxpayers. The problem remains that, while various school finance alternatives may attain equal educational opportunity by equalizing the level of expenditures among school districts, they could expand the tax burden distribution inequities.

Policy analysis allows one to develop a rational policy procedure on empirical evaluation of policy alternatives designed to achieve a set of objectives. The analytical methods employed by policy analysis procedures are the foundation of this research's conceptual framework. This research is oriented toward decision-making and intends to be a guide to policy action.

Policy suggestions for reform concentrate on three crucial areas: (1) to change the content and the elements of the equalization formulas; (2) to increase the level of state support; (3) to adopt a full state assumption of public education finance. These policy suggestions focus on the revenue formation and revenue distribution functions.

This dissertation analyzes the operating school finance system from a school district fiscal profile perspective. It also constructs an analytical model and tests the school finance alternatives' impacts on the individual taxpayer-voter from a tax burden redistribution perspective.

The fifteen unified school districts in the Portland metropolitan area of Oregon were chosen as the test ground for this research. The procedures for this policy research study are as follows: (1) the social objectives, equal opportunity and equity in tax burden distribution are defined as the basis by which the school finance policy alternatives are analyzed; (2) alternative school finance policies are identified and selected according to a criterion of political feasibility; (3) the necessary data is collected and simulated according to the specifications of the policy alternatives; (4) the resultant tax burden redistribution of policy alternatives are identified; (5) results are analyzed to determine the comparative advantages of alternative school finance policies.

Analysis of the school district fiscal profiles under the 1975-1976 school finance system indicates considerable differences in school district fiscal capacities. Moreover, state aid distribution based on the property wealth of school districts is not sufficient to equalize these differences. It is evident that the state of Oregon's share in financing public schools is insufficient to override the horizontal and vertical burden distribution inequities.

This research indicates that, changing the state aid distribution formulas without increasing the level of state support, may reduce disparities in fiscal capacities among school districts. However, it is evident that such reform alternatives are not effective measures to reduce the existing tax burden distribution inequities among individual taxpayers.

This study concludes that centralization of revenue formation functions, by, increasing the level of state support to public schools, will reduce the existing inequalities in tax burden distribution.


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