Topic: Public Finance


2024 Fundamentals of Municipal Finance Credential

May 13, 2024 - May 16, 2024


Offered in English

The University of Chicago is no longer accepting applications for the 2024 program.

Public finance faces heightened scrutiny, which presents opportunities and challenges. As communities continue to struggle with effects of the pandemic while facing urgent needs ranging from affordable housing to infrastructure investment, their decisions about revenues and expenditures must center on equity, efficiency, and sustainability.

Even before COVID-19, situations in communities like Detroit, Stockton, Flint, and Puerto Rico highlighted severe fiscal challenges—and ongoing stress—to public services caused by the shrinking revenue streams impacting many local governments.

While federal funding for local governments increased to provide the services and infrastructure residents demand, this funding source has limits and will soon go back to prepandemic levels. Communities must not only devise ways to spend this influx of money equitably, they must also be prepared to adequately and fairly raise revenues when federal funding diminishes.

Whether you want to better understand public-private partnerships, debt and municipal securities, or leading land-based strategies to finance infrastructure projects, this program will give you the skills and insights to advance your career in local government or community development.


This program was created by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy’s Center for Municipal Finance in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. This course will include modules on the following topics:

  • Urban economics and growth
  • Intergovernmental fiscal frameworks, revenues, and budgeting
  • Capital budgeting and Infrastructure Maintenance
  • Debt/Municipal Securities
  • Land Value Capture and Municipal Finance
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Financial Analysis for Land Use and Development Decision Making
  • Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) in Municipal Finance

Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate signed by both organizations. For planners maintaining their AICP credentials, this course provides 16 Certification Maintenance (CM) credits from the American Planning Association.

Course Format 

The live virtual programming will last approximately 3.75 hours each day, and the additional coursework—viewing prerecorded lectures and reading introductory materials—will require up to two additional hours each day.

Who Should Attend

Urban planners who work in the private and public sectors as well as individuals in the economic development, community development, and land development industries.


Nonprofit and public sector: $2,000
Private sector: $2,500

Space is limited.


May 13, 2024 - May 16, 2024
Number of Credits
Educational Credit Type
AICP CM credits


Land Use Planning, Municipal Fiscal Health, Planning, Property Taxation, Public Finance

Introduction to the Property Tax–School Funding Connection

Property taxation and school funding are closely linked in the United States. Forty-five percent of total public K–12 education revenues come from local governments and 80 percent of the local share comes from property taxes. In a well-structured school finance system, both major funding sources—property tax and state aid—will ensure that schools can provide an adequate education for all students equitably and efficiently.

Introduction to the Property Tax–School Funding Connection presents resources designed to promote basic understanding of the relationship between property taxation and public K–12 education funding.


Policy Focus Reports

Rethinking the Property Tax–School Funding Dilemma
Daphne A. Kenyon, Bethany Paquin, and Andrew Reschovsky

This report updates The Property Tax–School Funding Dilemma, a Lincoln Institute Policy Focus Report published in 2007. It describes the joint role of the property tax and state aid in funding public K–12 education, analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of each funding source, presents case studies of five states, and concludes with a dozen recommendations. Some recommendations seek to make the local property tax more equitable and efficient; others suggest ways to improve state aid.

Working Papers

What Makes a Fair School Finance System?
Andrew Reschovsky

This working paper explores the complexities involved in defining fair and equitable school funding. In defining fairness, state policy makers must address several issues such as differences between taxpayer equity and student equity, equity of educational inputs versus educational outcomes, and the question of placing limits on the education spending of property-wealthy communities. The author defines five different goals that have driven school funding policies over the past 50 years.

Designing School Aid Formulas to Achieve High-Quality and Equitable Education
Andrew Reschovsky

A companion to What Makes a Fair School Finance System, this paper describes the school funding formulas necessary to achieve five broad funding goals that have driven school finance policies over the past 50 years. It explains the formulas state governments use and highlights two states, one with a successful funding system and one that is less successful in achieving its funding goals. The paper recommends ways to design state school aid formulas to achieve high-quality and equitable education.

Effects of Reducing the Role of the Local Property Tax in Funding K-12 Education
Daphne Kenyon and Semida Munteanu

Between 1989 and 2018, 24 states increased their reliance on the local property tax, while 25 states decreased theirs. This paper reviews the literature on school funding and business cycles and the effects of revenue volatility on education outcomes. It also explores the experience of four states that decreased reliance on the local property tax (Michigan, Kansas, South Carolina, and New Hampshire), analyzing the impact on school funding during recessions, the level and growth of per-pupil school spending, and the equity of per-pupil school spending.

New Hampshire: Heavy Property Tax Reliance on Longstanding School Finance Litigation
Semida Munteanu, Bethany Paquin, and Sydney Zelinka

New Hampshire does not levy a broad-based sales or income tax and therefore is the state most reliant on property taxes. In 1999, New Hampshire dramatically changed its system of school aid and implemented a statewide education property tax (SWEPT), which is levied and retained by local governments. Although the SWEPT was adopted to meet the state’s requirement for funding an adequate education, the state has been subject to numerous school finance lawsuits about the inadequacy of state aid. This paper explores New Hampshire’s unique tax structure and its role in funding public K–12 education, describes the history of school finance litigation and legislative response, analyzes what adequacy and equity mean for state school finance systems and student achievement, and considers options for improving school finance equity.

Land Lines Articles

Public Schools and the Property Tax: A Comparison of Education Funding Models in Three U.S. States
Daphne Kenyon, Bethany Paquin, and Semida Munteanu

This article is excerpted from the Lincoln Institute Policy Focus Report Rethinking the Property Tax–School Funding Dilemma, and from a Lincoln Institute working paper,  “Effects of Reducing the Role of the Local Property Tax in Funding K–12 Education.”


Webinar Series: The Property Tax-School Funding Connection

This webinar series explores the experience of three states that have enacted various types of property tax limitations and their efforts to ensure continued adequate funding for public education. Presenters from each state assess the effectiveness of those efforts and suggest possible policy reforms.

Contact Us

Questions? Contact one of our Expert Sources for more information.

Efficient and Equitable Tax Systems

Using land and property values to fund public investment and vital government services

Tax systems are the engine for public action, providing resources needed to promote and improve civic well-being. An efficient tax system raises revenue while minimizing unintended consequences, and an equitable tax system imposes obligations on taxpayers in proportion to their resources.

Our Work

Our work addresses three major land-related tax issues:

  • Property taxation, a fair, stable, and efficient source of local revenue
  • Land value taxation, an economically efficient method of identifying the social contribution to property wealth
  • Valuation methods, the key to appraising the property tax base accurately and distributing tax obligations fairly

The property tax is the linchpin of municipal fiscal health:


Fiscally Standardized Cities 
Compare local government finances for over 200 large US cities across 115 categories of revenues, expenditures, debt, and assets. 

Significant Features of the Property Tax 
Discover data on the property tax in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia. 

State-by-State Property Tax at a Glance 
Use this visualization tool to compare property tax systems and key variables across the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. 

Standard on Property Tax Policy 
As part of an International Association of Assessing Officers task force, the Lincoln Institute has contributed to the content and focus of the organization’s Standard on Property Tax Policy. Drawing upon many Lincoln Institute resources, the guidelines in this publication provide best practices to improve and advance property tax systems. 

Vertical Equity App 
A well-administered property tax system is an efficient and equitable way to pay for local public services, and accurate assessments are critical for property tax equity. The Vertical Equity App is designed to provide assessment offices with the capacity to measure and evaluate vertical equity in assessment rolls and to communicate the results effectively.  

Value-Based Taxation in Eastern Europe 
The Lincoln Institute built on its ongoing initiatives to strengthen the property tax in Southern and Eastern Europe through its educational work in Latvia, where a highly regarded and technically sophisticated mass appraisal system faces political challenges that are common to many regions around the world. 

Cover of A Good Tax


A Good Tax

Tax expert Joan Youngman skillfully considers how to improve the operation of the property tax and supply the information missing in public debate. The author analyzes the legal, administrative, and political challenges to the property tax in the United States and offers recommendations for its improvement. The book is accessibly written for policy analysts and public officials who are dealing with specific property tax issues and for those concerned with property tax issues in general.

Read the Book
Property Tax in Africa
Edited by Riël Franzsen and William McCluskey


Property Tax

50-State Property Tax Comparison Study
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence

Other Publications

Property Tax

Property Tax in Asia
Edited by William McCluskey, Roy Bahl, and Riël Franzsen


Property Tax

Our Experts

Adam H. Langley

Associate Director of Tax Policy

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Joan Youngman

Senior Fellow & Chair of Valuation and Taxation

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Bethany P. Paquin

Senior Research Analyst

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Daniel P. McMillen

Distinguished Scholar

Ronald Rakow


Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Claudia De Cesare

Municipality of Porto Alegre, Brazil

Porto Alegre, Brazil