Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The following editorial appeared in the Northwest Herald.
After years of endorsing referenda we hear the following from the Northwest Herald Editorial board: "Also, tax swap supporters continue to ignore the fact that there is a huge spending problem in education. Any tax swap plan that ignores the gross inefficiencies in Illinois public education should be a nonstarter." Stop the presses hell must have frozen over and pigs must now fly?
Tax swap will shortchange
A new proposal to fund education in Illinois would shortchange McHenry and Kane counties.
Some lawmakers want to raise the state income tax by 2 percent, while decreasing property taxes. The plan also would impose a sales tax on services such as hair cuts and lawn care. This is not the first such tax swap plan to be proposed. And like the others, it has all the earmarks of a shell game.
The biggest problem with such proposals always has been that they do not provide enough property tax relief. The result is that areas with higher incomes, such as McHenry and Kane counties, end up paying more in taxes.
State Rep. Jack Franks, D-Woodstock, said McHenry County would end up paying $97 million more in taxes if the proposal became law. That’s not acceptable.
Also, tax swap supporters continue to ignore the fact that there is a huge spending problem in education. Any tax swap plan that ignores the gross inefficiencies in Illinois public education should be a nonstarter.
Franks, who is opposed to the tax swap plan, has raised one potential change that should be considered: Countywide school districts. Illinois is littered with tiny school districts that employ entire administrations to oversee paltry enrollments for one or two schools.
“We could have more efficiency and get rid of a lot of administration,” Franks correctly observed.
Many people agree that relying on property taxes is not the best way to fund education in Illinois.
But any talk of reform must be all inclusive. The goal cannot simply be to boost revenue for schools at the expense of taxpayers without taking a long, hard look at how schools are run and how existing tax dollars are spent.
The elimination of wasteful spending must be part of the discussion.
Unfortunately, we keep getting these tax swap plans that simply attempt to collect more tax money and soak suburban taxpayers for the benefit of Chicago.