Area Lawmaker Proposing to Change Way Schools Get Tax Revenues

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

"It's bursting through the seams. A lot of kids are coming into the district, a lot of growth. We need to help them," Belvidere parent Teri Keegan says.

Keegan is one of three generations to go through Belvidere schools, but with area state districts still stinging from recent failed property tax referendums, area lawmaker Ron Wait is proposing a bill that would have districts funded by income taxes, not property taxes.

"The fairest tax is an income tax, because if you have the money, you pay equally. If you make a little more, than you have the ability to pay it," Wait said.

Wait believes income tax spreads out the burden more thoroughly and equally. The former teacher argues because of that area property owners might re-think their vote on future referendum ballots.

"This would be an easier way for people in the Belvidere, Harlem and Hononegah districts, all with budget deficits, to be able to better pass referendums," Wait said.

The idea to fund districts through income taxes isn't new, first proposed in the 1970's, and narrowly rejected around five years ago. Because of that, Wait wants the bill to have another shot, something that Keegan hopes will change the funding dynamic for area schools.

"Future referendums would have a big effect because it would spread out for all taxpayers, all property taxpayers that have to pay over and over again on everything," Keegan said.

A proposal to shift how schools fund themselves, a proposal to be discussed this week downstate.


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