Changing School Funding

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Closer to home a statewide report shows that about 80 percent of Illinois School Districts are deficit spending.

House Bill 750 was introduced in Springfield last February. The writers behind the proposed legislation have come up with a way that Illinois schools could receive adequate funding. Instead of relying on property tax, districts could rely more on sales and income tax.

Hononegah School Board President Dave Kurlinkus says, "What this has done is start a statewide movement to examine the problem to find alternatives to property taxes."

For the Hononegah School District who faces a $5 million deficit this would mean instead of constantly talking about cuts, the board could focus on adding educational opportunities. Those with the Illinois Center for Tax and Budget Accountability are the writers of the legislation and have provided Illinois districts with statistics.

Kurlinkus, "The figures they have shown us state that in 2 years we would have made up our deficit."

Though our property taxes might be lower, the opposition to House Bill 750 comes from the fact that more of the burden would fall on our sales and income taxes, so taxes may be higher for such things as a haircut.

But education leaders say the extra money would help make a difference in what district's can provide. Earlier this week Rockford Public School Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson spoke about House Bill 750 in his state of the schools address.

Thompson told 23 News, "If I've got more money, I can provide more opportunities. We need to equalize that for all students all over the state. That will help state economically, socially and so on."

Changing the way Illinois schools are funded could come up again in January when the General Assembly returns to Springfield, but most likely a revamped bill will circulate when the new assembly meets this spring.

A meeting to discuss House Bill 750 will take place this week. Featured Speaker Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability will present an argument in favor of this legislation he helped write. Martire will speak this Tuesday, December 14, 2004 at the Performing Arts Center at Hononegah High School at 7 p.m.