All Manitobans - not just property owners - should help fund education, according to the Manitoba Education Financing Coalition.

"Education is a very important provincial activity and all Manitobans benefit from it, so all Manitobans should contribute to it, not just property owners," says Coalition chair Lorne Weiss, who's also president of the Manitoba Real Estate Association.

The Coalition, which also includes Keystone Agricultural Producers, both the Manitoba and Winnipeg Chambers of Commerce and the Manitoba Association of Cottage Owners, launched the 2011 campaign earlier this week, which aims to make school tax policy an issue in the provincial election.

"When you look at the farm community and the large amount of land and value in their production buildings, the kind of taxes that are being applied to those facilities, without regard to their profitability or ability to pay, is glaring example of what's wrong with our current system," says Weiss.

About one-third of education funding in Manitoba comes from taxes on residential, commercial and farm property. The Coalition is calling on all parties to commit to reducing the portion to 20 percent, with a goal of funding 100 percent of education through general revenues.

"The difference is that payment will be based on ability-to-pay, rather than on debt or assessed value, which doesn't reflect equity at all," he says.