ITEF Comment Vol. XI Issue 1

Public School Propaganda Machine Full Throttle To Raise Income Tax, Pad Salaries

Cries are echoing across the state from politicians and public school bureaucrats both in and outside of Chicago to raise the state income tax. To hear them tell it, public school systems are being starved financially by inadequate state funding, not to mention by heartless tightwads who vote against local public school tax-increase referenda.

But public school systems in Illinois are not starving for cash–they are drowning in taxpayer dollars. Figures provided by the Illinois State Board of Education show that from school year 1992-93 to school year 2002-03, total funding (local, state & federal) increased 74 percent, from $10 billion to $18 billion! Even adjusting for inflation, the increase for this period was still 53 percent. For this same period, average daily attendance increased only 14 percent.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (D) recently urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) to boost education funding immediately, then tackle the long-term problem of school funding reform, repeating the lie that Chicago public schools have “limped along for years by cutting spending.”

The Daily Southtown editorialized in November 2004 that “The real solution for Illinois public schools is increased funding from the state government…Illinois fails to fund its schools adequately.” Then, tugging at its readers’ heartstrings, it stated: “The losers last week included Thornton Township School Dist. 205–which will have to make another round of deep cuts….” An alert reader, however, pointed out that Thornton has “An astounding 80 employees making over $100,000 per year and about 170 making over $90,000 per year…Furthermore, even guidance counselors in Thornton are making over $120,000 per year.”

Thornton Township School Dist. 205 and Arlington Heights School Dist. 211 have property tax increase referenda on the ballot this April to pad their already lavish salaries and benefits. The Northwest Tax Watch pointed out that Arlington Heights School Dist. 211 has over 300 individuals who have an annual wage in excess of $100,000.

Illinois public school teachers are by no means poor. Eighty percent of public school expenditures go to pay salaries of teachers, administrators and consultants. In the 2001-2002 school year, the average teacher retiree outside of Chicago with at least 34 years experience had a final average salary of $71,000 and an annual pension benefit of $54,000. Raising state or local taxes only serves to make these public employees and consultants even wealthier than they already are.

Still, the politicians cry for more money “for the children.” Although the proposed 67 percent hike in the state income tax proposed by General Assembly Democrats stalled, state Republicans have come to their rescue! Senate Bill 1484, sponsored by Republican state senator, Richard J. “Dick” Winkel (R-52, Urbana), would raise the state income tax $5 billion annually. SB 1484 would raise the state personal income tax a staggering 67 percent, and raise the state corporate income tax to 10.5 percent, making it the second highest in the nation.

Gov. Blagojevich pledged not to raise the state income and sales taxes, but Winkel’s new “more acceptable” $5 billion Republican version of the $7 billion Democratic state tax increase may garner enough bi-partisan support to make it “veto proof,” as Winkel has bragged to the press.

Real, permanent property tax relief can and should be provided by cutting spending, not increasing local and state taxes. The public school industry has lived extravagantly on the backs of taxpayers long enough.

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