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.