* The Chicago Tribune editorial page published an op-ed by Gov. Pat Quinn…
Feb. 24, 1997: “Illinois’ schoolchildren — and taxpayers — deserve something better than the state’s arcane, inadequate and inequitable system of paying for public education. It’s a method that relies far too heavily on property taxes, overburdening homeowners and creating huge inequities between rich and poor districts.”
April 19, 1997: “The legislature needs to establish a minimum amount guaranteed for each child to provide an adequate education. It should finance that foundation level by raising the state income tax, and then offset some of that increase with property tax relief. … What’s more, a modest increase in the state’s income tax would not be unduly burdensome, particularly when coupled with a drop in property taxes.”
Those aren’t my words. They’re the words of the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board, praising then-Gov. Jim Edgar’s thoughtful, responsible plan to change the way Illinois schools are funded by raising the income tax and reducing the property tax burden.
How right they were!
In fact, that is exactly what I set out to do last week when I proposed maintaining the current income tax rate — among the lowest in the nation — to properly fund public schools, while reducing the property tax burden by providing every Illinois homeowner with a guaranteed $500 annual refund. […]
The Chicago Tribune was right in 1997: It’s time to tackle this “arcane, inadequate system” where homeowners are overburdened and children are shortchanged.
* But is this really property tax relief? To me, anyway, it looks a whole lot like what President George W. Bush did during the 2008 crash…
Tax rebates created by the law were paid to individual U.S. taxpayers during 2008. Most taxpayers below the income limit received a rebate of at least $300 per person ($600 for married couples filing jointly). Eligible taxpayers received, along with their individual payment, $300 per dependent child under the age of 17. The payment was equal to the payer’s net income tax liability, but could not exceed $600 (for a single person) or $1200 (married couple filing jointly).
* The Tribune didn’t like the idea back then…
As Americans hold their breath over the economy, Bush elbowed Congress to pass a $150 billion stimulus package, with rebate checks and temporary tax cuts. Democrats agreed, with swift passage in the House.
It’s money drawn from thin air, amid crushing deficits.
* Quinn’s proposal (which was pushed by Speaker Madigan) is to cut a $500 check to every Illinois homeowner and then mail those checks before the general election.
The proposal does nothing to address the reasons behind our high property taxes. The money could’ve been used for schools, perhaps with a requirement that school districts not increase their budgets in exchange for the cash. There are no ideas here to address unfunded state mandates, which push up costs. There are no ideas to force schools to rein in administrative costs, etc., etc., etc..
There is zero “reform” in this plan. It’s just a check, paid for with money we as a state really don’t have.