Saturday, October 08, 2005

Edgar Gets Schooled Phil Kadner. In a column last week, Kadner took Gov. Jim Edgar to task for excoriating Dawn Clark Netsch about her support for a tax swap as a means of education funding reform only to later propose essentially the same thing himself. Edgar's proposal itself died in the Republican Senate, and our schools are still inequitably funded to this day.

When Kadner raised the issue at Edgar's (un)announcement last week, the former Governor had this to say:

Edgar said that people who support school funding reform should not presscandidates for governor to take a pledge in support of a tax hike.

On the other hand, any candidate who pledges not to raise taxes should be taken to task for making a promise that he might not be able to keep once he realizes thebudget problems faced by the state.

I am a sponsor of House Bill 750 and 755 which strive to implement essentially the same concept. And while I have acknowledged that the bill may not be perfect, I still have not seen anything concrete brought forward by any of the dissenters that would address the issue.

But where I'm going is, if you agree that we need to fix the way we fund our schools, how do we get there without a showing of some political fortitude? As recently as last week, I spoke at a town hall meeting in my district and explained my position on this issue. And even those in attendance whose net tax burden would increase showed an openness to the fact that something must be done. I represent a relatively well-off district, and people are still being property-taxed out of their homes because of the local burden of school funding.

And before the are any (justified) rants about school district bureaucracy, let me further focus the issue. If you think that the state's share of education funding should be increased, how do we accomplish that?


At October 8, 2005 at 4:05 PM, Blogger respectful said...

Spending from all sources on K-12 public schools in Illinois rose by 157.8% between 1987-2003. The CPI grew by 57% during the same period, while enrollment grew by just 13.1%. (Source: First Reading by the Legislative Research Unit, June 2004)

At October 8, 2005 at 4:07 PM, Blogger respectful said...

These bills are not talking about a dollar-for-dollar swap between property taxes and income taxes. Instead, the proposal would effect a net tax hike of $5 billion. There would be a serious shift of the tax burden from business, which pays nearly half of property taxes, to individuals, who pay 85% of income taxes.

At October 8, 2005 at 4:36 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

But my question is, absolute dollar level aside, if you think that the state's portion of education funding should be increased, how would you propose accomplishing this task?

At October 9, 2005 at 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, HB 750/755 is not good legislation. On average, it actually increases the taxation by household. And yes, that is after the property tax relief. Then, there is no way to assure local monies come back to those schools. How do you sell that to, say, Glencoe or Naperville? I'm all for making the rich help the poor, but we need to be realistic. What is the incentive for the residents of those towns?

Anyway, I find it hard to believe that the problem is solely fund-based. There are a lot of problems with the schools in Illinois...maybe as many problems as there are school districts. You cannot ignore the fact that too many schools have their finances controlled by people who are not skilled in both the areas of financial management and accounting.

The problem will not be fixed by, excuse my use of cliche, throwing money at it. We do not need to come up with a new and unique solution. Let us look toward other states that have been successful in education reform.

With their education reform in 2000, Georgia schools have been successful in increasing their school system's all-around performance. Here is a link to the reform's outline:

We in Illinois need to focus on actually fixing our problems rather than making PR-related policy. Our current method causes continued problems that are remedied by more short-sighted legislation that furthers the vicious cycle. If we really want to fix education, then focus on that issue and really fix public education in this state.

At October 10, 2005 at 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Georgia begs the question, how do they pay for teachers with such low teacher to student ratio????? That would improve education significantly.

HB750 is balanced and will work.

Someone needs to work on the ilfated three tire grant system of supporting education with GSA.

SOMEONE needs to work on consolidation NORTH of I-80.

John, do this, together with Lou Lang, figure out what Skokie could save in tax dollars by consolodating all four of it's school districts - 2 with flat grants and 2 with alternative grants. You would be amazed at your savings and still deliver the education needed to all students at the same level.

Consolodation south of I-80 should only be in dense areas, not the sprawling farm land areas. Just the cost in gas going to school would be prohibitive.

At October 10, 2005 at 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the heck happened to all the lottery and casino money?

This is why I don't trust any plan to spend more money on education...all the money in the world wouldn't be enough.

As soon as all the teachers in Illinois make $100k a year, what are all the cops, firemen and bus drivers going to say?

We really need some anti-inflationary forces here.

At October 10, 2005 at 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a luxury tax on local school district spending? Sort of how the New York Yankees get taxed on their huge payroll, and the tax collected from them goes to help the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with their much smaller payroll?

Everything a distrcit spends over $xx a year gets taxed at yy%. This goes into a fund to help the schools that aren't funded well.

At October 10, 2005 at 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John: You are absolutely on the right track with HB750/755. Keep up the good work.

It's all well and good to pursue efficiencies in school governance, such as through district consolidation. And the pursuit of other, quality-assurance measures in education is justified, too. But we're not going to truly improve kids' learning until we hit the $6,405 per-pupil mark that Education Funding Advisory Board research has shown is necessary just to help two-thirds of students to meet state learning goals -- and even that ain't a particularly lofty achievement goal. (PS: We're $1,200 per pupil short of that unambitious mark, today.)

The fact is: Quality don't come on the cheap. Name any product of excellence that you've ever obtained dirt-cheap .. You just can't do it. To quote John Fritchey, "The quality of a child's education shouldn't be based on the value of the dirt where they're born." If we keep spending far below the level that expert research says is necessary to provide kids with a good education -- and if we keep treating one child's learning as a much higher priority than another child's -- then we will continue to get what we pay for: un- and under-educated kids.

We've got a responsibility to our kids, and an occasional tax increase is the very reasonable price of admission to a productive future for them and for us all.

At October 12, 2005 at 12:08 AM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...

"School Funding Reform" a la HB750/755 is a scam.

There is NO "property tax relief" in the bill.

It is designed to create a revenue stream that will be "zeroed out" the moment the "pension obligations" start coming due.

You will all be saddled with massive new state taxes, with the "property tax" portion disappearing in one budget cycle (or less).

Now, if you are interested in REAL "education funding reform"...

go to

and comment on a workable plan that isn't a scheme to defraud IL taxpayers.

At October 12, 2005 at 12:15 AM, Anonymous Rep David Miller said...

As the lead House sponsor of both 750 and 755, i can understand the critics. However, I NEVER hear(or read) another solution....on paper. Both bills are compresenive changes that go to the root of funding education. Many of the proposals in the bills were from EFAB's recommendation.

Talk is cheap, and ANYTIME you mention the "T" word, it frightens lawmakers to frighten citizens. Money isn't everything, but I would argue that there is likely a difference between a child's preformance who's district spends $5000 vs $14000. (Yes, there are exceptions).

The trib had a story about this gap widening. THE goal is to level up...not take away or bring down. Whats gonna help get thoes affluent districts... property tax reduction.

the basic underling question that many politicans will not anwser...should public funding of our schools depend on your zip code? Was the EFAB just another report that should stay on the shelf, or hey, lets try to use it?

Iam willmg to sit down with ANYONE in the state if they can draft better/fairer legislation to address this problem. Tax increase/no tax increase/property tax reduction...lets hear it. Or we can admit to the voters that we are not going to do anything.

At October 12, 2005 at 8:53 AM, Blogger Bill said...

The state should be responsible for the majority of the funding for public education. A fair interpertation of that concept is that at least 51% of education funding should come from the state. How can the state afford that? RAISE TAXES to pay for the services that the citizens of this state are entitled to. I'm not opposed to the swap and I sympathize with the property owners and businesses in Reps. Fritchey's and Miller's districts, but I don't think that only a 2 point increase with 30% property tax rebate will be enough to fund all aspects of state government.
It is a good start, however, and I applaud the Reps. and Sens. Jones and Meeks for spearheading the effort to assure at least some equity in the quality of public education regardless of "the value of the dirt".
It will take tremendous political courage on the part of our General Assembly and our Governor to get this done but I have faith in the citizens and voters of this state to approve of HB/SB 750.

At October 12, 2005 at 8:56 AM, Blogger Mary Fioretti said...

You're one of my favorites.

At October 13, 2005 at 12:45 AM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...

Dear Rep. Miller.

I found your post interesting, given that I posted just such an alternative just prior.

(I'm sure you disagreed with it - if you read it, and I'm sure my rhetoric sets your teeth on edge. But the ideas are sound.)

Regardless, here is the link once again. Yes, it is long essay/plan, but so is HB750.

Here are some simple thoughts.

1. Dramatically expanded choice is inevitable. The current quality of schools - yes, even in the cash drenched suburbs - is unsustainable.

2. Education is neural connections in a child's head, not a bloated bureacracy of psychologists, special ed. payroll padding and administrators soaking up sick days & fat pensions. A good curriculum could do with $4,000 what a bad curriculum couldn't do with $20,000.

3. Once the people start to become informed of the financial condition the current crowd (both parties, to be sure) has inflicted upon this state, there will be some serious electoral surprises. (how I wish I had an extra $4 mil)

4. Any "swap" needs to be a net tax cut. There aren't enough new tax dollars in IL to fund the promises made. Increase taxes and business & individuals leave. Cutting spending is the only option.

4. I'd be happy to meet with you, Rep Fritchey, Ms. Fioretti, & anyone else to hash these things out. I'll double up and offer to debate any and or all of you in any public forum.

I'll end with my favorite quote from the late AFT President - Al Shanker...

"When school children start paying Union Dues, I'll start worrying about their interests."

Whose interests do the leaders in Springfield serve - the people who pay their salary or the people who pay their campaign contributions?

At October 13, 2005 at 8:52 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Dear Extremist lack of wisdom,
As a bonafide member of the "education spending lobby" I was tempted to stop reading after the "uninformed soccer moms and their emasculated husbands" remark but I forced my way through the rest of your rantings and found nothing new, different, or innovative about your school voucher scheme.
....spoken like a true reactionary!

At October 13, 2005 at 10:50 AM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...


I'm sorry you don't like the rhetoric, and I am considering toning it down.

I notice however, that you seem incapable of commenting on the actual plan, which basically calls Martire's bluff & has the state "fund", but not "produce" the educational product. (and it is just a "product" - not the priesthood you have tried to make it)

I'm torn as to whether I should reduce the rhetoric so you no longer have that fig leaf to hide behind, or whether to leave it up to show that your side has nothing but figleafs, tax increases, and shell games to hide behind.

Let's have a traveling public debate. Any place, any time. Let the people decide who is "reactionary" and who has nothing "new to offer."

Your "lobby" has had 70 years, and continuous real spending increases. If I were in on that protection racket, I would be "reactionary" and "conservative" too.

At October 13, 2005 at 12:13 PM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...


I took down the offending language and am working on a "toned down" version.

Thank you for making me an even more effective communicator.

Get back to me on that debate thing


At October 13, 2005 at 1:54 PM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...

John & everyone,

Here is a tidbit that should give you reason to rethink the political calculus.

A European pensions expert was once asked whether he thought Europeans would ever be willing to transform their expensive tax-funded systems into more sustainable fully funded systems. His answer: "Not until the young take up arms against the old."

"In The Netherlands, that is exactly what is happening right now. In July of this year, a group of young civil servants took the dramatic step of publicly declaring their opposition to a deal safeguarding the early retirement rights of older workers. Since then, the Dutch airwaves and op-ed pages have been filled with bitter intergenerational recriminations. The main Dutch trade union, the FNV, accused the authors of "corroding the cement of society by only showing solidarity when it's convenient to them." The young pension refuseniks in turn accused the unions of "hiding behind a mask of altruism while blatantly serving the narrow interests of its own, ageing membership." Where, they asked, is the solidarity in a deal that sees younger workers pay twice, once for their own retirement, and once for the early retirement of older workers, while older workers aren't expected to make any sacrifices at all?"


Substitute IL for the Netherlands above, and you have IL circa 2007.

Every teacher/Administrator who retired post "pay boost ERO" has molested the taxpayer, but raped the younger teachers.

When some one points this fact out to them, and offers them access to an open and free market in education (as opposed to the current Borg-like monopoly), what do you think they will do?

The smart ones will know the answer. The rest will remain "reactionary."

At October 13, 2005 at 2:41 PM, Blogger Bill said...

No problem. It is my vocation to educate. As far as the debate is concerned, let me know when and where. It will take no effort whatsoever to debunk the tired old voucher argument. Good luck trying to start a generational war. The citizens of Il are a little too well meaning and sophisticated to fall for that. Is it that unfathomable to you that most citizens are not as selfish and self cenetered as you like to imply.

At October 13, 2005 at 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senator Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora)has proposed a bill SB2080, which would tax on line purchases. When you purchase an item at a local retailer, you pay sales tax. When you pick up the phone and buy an item, you pay sales tax. But an item purchased at a computer terminal, there's no sales tax collection enforced. He also says, that this inconsistent application of sales tax collection isn't fair to the local retailer who pays property taxes like the rest of us, and provides jobs.

The revenue provided by this consistent application of the sales tax law is $6000,000,000 each year and growing at 20% per year. Twenty percent of the sales taxes collected from this source will go to local government in the same way that it is currently distributed and the remaining 80% will go back to the school districts on an equitable per pupil allocation.

It's time to look for new ways to generate revenue, instead of always asking the property owners to fork over more money.

At October 13, 2005 at 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon 9:40 you missed the point... everyone would pay the tax increase. people who own property would get the reduction. this is called a "swap"

At October 14, 2005 at 9:59 AM, Blogger Extreme Wisdom said...

Anon 9:40 & 11:14 both missed the point.

There is NO PROPERTY TAX relief in HB 755.

1. the money goes back the district. Most districts will run referenda asking to keep it, if indeed they even need to.

You will get socked instantly with big sales & income tax increases, but MAYBE see tiny property tax relief one year later.

2. HB 750 does nothing to reform the massive cost drivers (pensions & Medicaid) The "property tax relief" portion of HB 755 will disappear with a year or two, and the "Spending Lobby" will be back with baseball bat in hand, shaking down the taxpayers for another increase ("it's only going from 5% to 7%, do it for the children, or else")

Sorry, not buying.

Lauzen ought to be ashamed to ask for internet money. The state doesn't deserve one thin dime until the budget process is opened up and the massive administrative bloat (currently swept under the CMS rug) is cut.

Further, none of you tax increasers here even acknowledge that businesses and people can simply leave (and have left) the state.

The ideological blindness is stunning. You criticize me for my 'rhetoric', but ignore whole swaths of reality.

The concept of less spending, less bureaucracy, less regulation don't even occur to you.

The idea that a child can be well educated for under 6, 5, or even $4,000 isn't even a thought that can occur to you.

To have that thought occur shatters your "religion". And you call the Christian right "dogmatic."


My e-mail is Bill. E-mail me. Let's set this debate in motion.

Let the people decide.

At October 15, 2005 at 10:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Miller,

I think you have the right idea, but 750/755 is too sweeping. Its Blago-esque in that it tries to fix everything all at once. We must tackle this, and other complicated issues, one step at a time.

I don't have an answer that wouldn't lead to my crucifixion as a socialist. When we try to divert tax revenue from the wealthier Chicago suburbs, their argument will always be "if they want our resources, then they can move up here and add to the tax-base."

The major task is convincing the haves to share with the have-nots. Plain and simple, yet so very impossible in this society.


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