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Question of the day

Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013

* Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) has proposed a bill to help Springfield schools recover some of the lost property taxes from all the state buildings. The SJ-R likes it

Manar’s bill would award a “tax-equivalent grant” to Springfield schools because the Capitol is here. The grant would equal 0.5 percent of the equalized assessed value of all the land owned by the state in the district.

Manar’s legislation would calculate the value of those buildings not by a traditional appraisal, but by multiplying the average value per taxable acre of the district by the total number of acres owned by the state.

“The bill would simply account for some of the revenue loss on a local level for the Springfield public school system in the general state aid formula,” Manar told reporters on Monday.

It’s not unprecedented, either. In Will County, the Stateville Correctional Center occupies a large amount of property, and the State Board of Education awards a similar grant to the school district there, Manar said. […]

If Manar’s legislation passes, it won’t be a windfall for Springfield schools, he said. Although Manar did not have a firm estimate, the grant would be under $1 million.

The bill is here.

* The Question: Should this bill be approved? Explain your answer in comments, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Colossus - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    Well, if the “SK-R” likes it, I’m all for it!

  2. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 12:51 pm:

    No. It’s just a money grab.

    Seriously, what would Springfield be if it were not the state capital?

    It’s not a new idea. Politicians in university towns always complain about the “burden” of providing services to those tax-exempt institutions.

  3. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 12:53 pm:

    Without the Capitol, Springfield wouldn’t have any sales taxes to speak of, a sizable proportion which is collected from out-of-towners. Do not involuntarily redistribute Illinois taxpayer money, raise the sales tax. Or drop the issue.

  4. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 12:55 pm:


    I guess you must be against state aid then since that is “redistribution.”

  5. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 12:58 pm:

    Will it stop there, or can the State Comptroller be directed to fetch all public school revenue lost from muni/state/fed property?

    Does the state still own the Thompson Center? If so, does CPS get much back?

  6. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:01 pm:

    more money to district 186 isn’t going to help it

  7. - tubbfan - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Bad idea. How long have these buildings been off the tax rolls? Why should the State be subsidizing Springfield’s lack of economic development to replace that revenue?

  8. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:06 pm:

    - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 12:55 pm:


    I guess you must be against state aid then since that is “redistribution.”


    Some of it, yes. I am not a believer in, “no good intention goes unfunded.”

  9. - Dazed & Confused - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:08 pm:

    This is not a new idea - its been proposed by Raymond Poe for many years and has passed the House. Agree with the sentiments but there are lots of other districts with significant state facilities (Jacksonville for example).

  10. - Kasich Walker, Jr. - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    I’m waiting for the counter offer from the disgruntled: the school district gets the capitol and other “non essential” buildings for its own use or disposition.

    Legislators conduct more business from their home district or — when they must assemble — the Springfield Hilton.

  11. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:17 pm:


    Do you have another suggestion as to how to fund schools? Unless and until the property tax isn’t the primary funding source or the state creates a single property tax rate for the entire state to put all districts on equal footing there isn’t much choice.

  12. - titan - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:32 pm:

    @Demoralized - a single uniform property tax rate would put the schools on very, very unequal footings. High property value districts (particularly those with lots of commercial/industrial and little residential) would rake in a windfall, and low value districts would be further hurt.

  13. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:40 pm:

    I thought the capitol was in Chicago.

  14. - thechampaignlife - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:45 pm:

    Should this bill be approved? No, either eliminate the exemption for all government and non-profit, add an exemption for all employers, or eliminate property taxes entirely. This piecemeal approach of just covering certain types of exempt properties for just certain classes of taxes in certain locations just isn’t a good idea.

  15. - Jack - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:46 pm:

    So, Springfield wants the state to subsidize its schools, just like the state subsidizes Dist 186’s teacher’s retirement?

    Perhaps the state could reciprocate by charging a fee to any Dist 186 student that has a field trip to a state historical site.

  16. - CU Voter - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:50 pm:

    I wonder what his voters in Macoupin County who are driving their sales tax dollars to Springfield think of this.

    This does beg the question of just how much exempt property is on the books.

  17. - Palos Park Bob - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:52 pm:

    Bad idea. The money wouldn’t just magically appear, it needs to be taken from someone else.

    There’s no doubt that those “untaxable” buildings provide incredible sales tax and employee home real estate taxes to the community.

    I could see an entity like a university or government facility paying “use fees” for things like fire protection, street maintenance and police protection; IF the government isn’t providing those services themselves through their own police and fire departments.

    As far as the schools are concerned, exactly how much of the enrollment is from students listing the state capitol as their residence?LOL

    The capitol isn’t burdening the school system. The school system shouldn’t be burdening the state taxpayers for educational services they aren’t providing.

  18. - Cincinnatus - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    - Demoralized - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 1:17 pm:


    Do you have another suggestion as to how to fund schools?”


  19. - SAP - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 2:05 pm:

    Wouldn’t it be easier to sell the Capitol and lease it from the buyer who would have to pay property tax on the building?

  20. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 2:29 pm:

    Here’s an alternative, let the school district issue a sales tax. That would allow it to capture the economic activity of the Capitol. Rich’s bar tab alone would fund a new high school.

  21. - John Parnell - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 2:32 pm:

    This idea came up before Andy was working in the Capitol. It was good for a few votes in the next election, but a shot sited idea considering the numver of other cities that would want the same benefit.

  22. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 3:16 pm:

    If the state is going to do something along these lines, there should be a statewide approach, not just for Springfield. Lots of taxing districts have tax exempt properties within them.

  23. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 4:15 pm:

    No. 186 is always trying to pawn their mismanagement off to others. Besides, they collect plenty of tax from the millions of square feet leased by State entities around town.

  24. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 4:19 pm:

    Seems fair to me, particularly given the precedent set in Joliet, and at a likely cost under a million is not overly burdensome, and arguably even more so deserved for education/schools in an area which does truly sacrifice so much for the good of ALL Illinois communities and in-between. So I’d let it through, although if it succeeds, I’d beware of OTHER Illinois Legislators seeking to create similar arguments or pleas for their own towns ‘n districts for one “valid” reason or another, and then the question becomes, “Where will it stop?”

  25. - Ahoy! - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 5:36 pm:

    Disclaimer – I live in Springfield.

    I’m for it, but like I said I live here. It’s also true that the State does provide a lot of jobs for Springfield (although that has been on a downward trend for over 20 years). In fact from 2001 – 2010 Springfield lost 2,591 jobs. When account over 20 years the number of jobs lost is over 4,000. By some estimates only 60% of the tax base pays property tax in Springfield (remember the outskirts of Springfield are often in other school districts). I think this is a good proposal that helps Springfield Public Schools without expending too much. I understand the slippery slope argument with schools that have prisons, but those don’t take up near the available space that State government buildings do and are not even comparable when talking about scale.

    In short, it’s a great idea as long as the State believes the main source of funding our schools should be through property taxes.

  26. - Johnny Justice - Tuesday, Mar 5, 13 @ 11:15 pm:

    GREAT IDEA! Manar is just trying to make an already existing State law apply to Springfield. It only applies to School Districts that meet a certain threshold in terms o percentage of property owned by the State Makes sense and is fair to taxpayers. This is one smart senator

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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