State Board of Education
October 22, 2002
For Information: 217/782-4648
Cut Property Taxes by $3.5 Billion, Increase State Funding for Schools Substantially: Education Funding Advisory Board Report to Legislature, Governor
Chair calls for all state candidates to review and debate recommendations before for the Nov. election and into the 2003 legislative session
The state should provide a $3.5 billion reduction in local property taxes, a sizable increase in state support for schools and additional incentives to encourage school consolidation, the Education Funding Advisory Board said today in finalizing recommendations to go to the legislature and governor in January.
EFAB members hammered out the recommendations in Springfield Tuesday after more than two years of deliberations, several public hearings and extensive discussions by work groups looking in-depth at problems with the school funding system. Preliminary recommendations were issued by EFAB in August and discussed at three public hearings throughout the state in September. Preliminary recommendations were modified today to provide more specificity of recommendations for property tax relief and the foundation level increase for schools.
“We strongly believe that it is time that all policymakers stand up for the future of this state by acting to fix the way Illinois funds its schools,” said Robert Leininger, chair of the Education Funding Advisory Board and former State Superintendent of Education. “These recommendations are designed to provide the framework to fix the school funding system.
“Numerous studies over the last twenty years have all said we are too dependent on local property taxes and the state is not paying its fair share in supporting our schools. Illinois ranks 48th of the 50 states in the percentage of state support for schools.
“It is time to fix a broken system. It is neither fair to taxpayers nor to schools, and – most importantly – it is not fair to our 2 million students.
“I urge all state candidates to review these recommendations and debate them publicly before the November election and into the 2003 legislative session. Voters should demand that. Mere platitudes about education being a top priority will not prepare students to be successful. It takes a concerted effort from committed policymakers supported by a concerned public. Every survey that I have seen shows that the public overwhelmingly has that concern for the future. It is now time for our policymakers to stand up for the brighter future that strong schools can provide.”
TAX RELIEF OF 3.5 BILLION DOLLARS
STATE SUPPORT FOR SCHOOLS
In addition, the recommendations call for the elimination of hold harmless and reinstatement of the continuing appropriation to assure districts of funding stability. A Department of Human Services poverty count would be used for calculating poverty grants for districts, rather than the ten-year census count.
The combination of property tax relief and state revenue increases assures that the state would provide the majority of funding for elementary and secondary education.
To accomplish this reorganization, EFAB proposes that the current incentives be continued and additional incentives be added and that feasibility studies be required in all districts. If consolidation resulted in the need for a new building, EFAB proposes that the state fund 100 % of the cost of the building. In addition, a state implementation grant should accompany the reorganization and the new district should get a five-year exemption from the state designation system.
While many categorical
programs remain unchanged, the recommendations provide for a new transportation
formula and a study to combine special education funding sources. Combining
some existing programs into block grants would increase the flexibility
for local school districts while reducing the paperwork necessary to receive