Asked at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast this morning about how to increase state funding for education, local lawmakers said it likely can’t be done if income tax rates are allowed to drop as scheduled.

Illinois currently relies more on local property taxes and less on state funds for schools than all but a couple of states.

“We have to look at increasing funding for education,” State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) said, “but we can’t roll back the income tax and achieve that goal.”

And an income tax rollback, Steans added, given the pension and bond rating issues the state is facing, would leave it “in horrible fiscal shape.”

State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said there’s a need to change the state aid formula to provide more assistance for impoverished districts.

State Sen. Daniel Biss.

But he added that Evanston and other districts on the North Shore “are quite fortunate” in terms of what they’ve been able to provide their schools through the local property tax. He suggested it’s unlikely reform in the state aid formula would help schools here.

Biss said the state has made significant progress on teacher training and assessment systems and implementation of the common core curriculum standards, but that the changes have been “stressful for school leaders, teachers and students.”

About 80 people attended the annual legislative breakfast session at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Does anyone really believe the taxes will go to education ?

    Higher taxes [flat or progressive] or even retaining the current rate won't go to improved school or other 'good' causes the politican claim.  They will instead become a slush fund for Springfield to spend on pet causes that look go to those who residents would [probably already] vote for them [the candidate].

    We were promised several years ago that if we had a TEMPORARY increase, many/most problems would be solved.  Guess what ?  They found new ways to spend that 'extra' money and they will always find new ways to spend.

    Everytime they want increases they always say schools, health care, seniors, etc. etc. will be hurt if they don't get it.  There are plenty of other things that can and should be 'hurt'—pork spending, spending to get votes, no-bid contracts, government travel 'to learn !', office expense, staff [there is a big opportunity for cuts].

    Why give Springfield [and Evanston] politicians more to spend ?  Make them go after all the waste first and as far as schools, get real accountability out of the faculty and stafff.

    1. I don’t believe Springfield

      The good news is that Evanston seems to be represented by responsible and trustworthy elected officials as demonstrated by today's discussion. However, you have to look past the "spin" to get to the real substance. Raising taxes isn't a popular proposal, so politicians appeal to education, seniors and other emotional issues as "Guest" pointed out.

      Fundamentally, taxpayers don't trust Spriungfield. And for good reason – the list is legendary and an embarrassment to our great state. This most recent discussion on taxes is a concern, especially since our legislators, including Governor Quinn, promised us that the "temporary" tax increase passed in January 2011 was TEMPORARY and would drop from 5% to 3.75% in January 2015. By the way, the 3.75% tax, is still above the earlier state income tax of 3%.

      Springfield told us it was temporary and Springfield knew it was going to revert from 5% to 3.75% in January 2015. So what's the surprise? Why didn't they manage our state in a responsible manner and get the budget in order?

      If they misled us in 2010 in order to get the "temporary" tax passed in January 2011 why should we believe them today? Or in the future?

      And why should we believe them that the money WILL go to the schools this time? As I recall, that's what they said last time and educational funding hasn't been growing in Illinois.

  2. Who does Biss represent anyway?

    State Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said there's a need to change the state aid formula to provide more assistance for impoverished districts. But at the same time he admits that it won't help North Shore schools, which he says "are quie fortunate."

    So let me get this straight. Biss supports reform to aid "impoverished districts." even though it would financially HARM North Shore school districts that include D202 and D65?

    Just who does Biss represent? Someone remind Biss that it costs Evanston taxpayers $20,000 per D202 student.

    Biss also supports a flat state income tax rate that will basically shift more of the tax burden to the middle class. Anyone remember when Democrats three years ago raised our income tax 67 percent, promising it was only temporary? Now the Democrats want to make it permanent as they frantically search for more revenue.

    We need to end the one party control in Evanston and Illinois.

    I'm voting Republican up and down the ballot this November. How about you, friend?

    1. Daniel Biss and the Republicans

      I might consider voting Republican, too, but the GOP seems to have no candidate opposing Daniel Biss this year. If we are lucky perhaps there will be an independent, or Libertarian, or Communist.

      1. Biss

        We only have ourselves to blame! We voted for him. I don't care who the Republicans run, even a trained monkey ( is that PC?), I'll vote for him/her!

        1. Brilliant

          Perfect…don't go after one of the only people in Springfield actually fighting back and trying to change the way business is done downstate.  Look at his record.  When was the last time someone besides him spoke out against the "establishment"?

          1. But where do I find that?

            Please excuse my ignorance but where do I find proof that Daniel Biss is fighting the Madigan machine?  That's the "establishment" and I want it gone with no possible way for that to happen in the next 15-20 years.

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