Unexpected revenues for schools?
Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 - Posted by Rich Miller
* Will newfound money patch the budget hole? Maybe…
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn suggested Tuesday that better-than-expected sales-tax collections could be used to plug a hole in state school funding this year.
The budget that lawmakers and Quinn approved is about $230 million short for schools, and state education officials said Monday that they would likely not be able to make the final aid payment to school districts during the second half of June. The Illinois State Board of Education warned that a similar payment scheduled for the first half of June also will fall short.
Asked about the situation Tuesday, Quinn said he believed the money could be found within the already strapped budget because sales tax revenues are up. From July through December, Illinois brought in $4.312 billion in sales tax revenue — $239.1 million more than the same period the year before and $139.8 million more than initially projected, according to the Department of Revenue. […]
The governor added that he’d like to look at closing so-called “tax loopholes” to help the state make school aid payments next year, which could be more than $400 million short under a budget plan Quinn proposed last week.
Look, here’s the thing. School funding is remaining level for next fiscal year. But because of increased costs, etc. the per pupil funding level will be less. With the rest of the budget taking big hits and billions of dollars in overdue bills to struggling vendors, does it make sense to spend more money on schools? If you’re pro-school, you’ll say yes. Others might say no. But this does need to be honestly debated.
Also, closing tax loopholes to fund schools? Man, he must want to close a whole lot of loopholes because he used his recent budget address to outline some pretty big plans for that cash, and they didn’t include school funding…
That’s why I have instructed my Revenue Director, Brian Hamer, to meet with legislative leaders of both houses and both parties to identify and close unnecessary loopholes.
Part of the loophole revenue can be used to provide targeted tax relief for hard-working families and businesses across Illinois.
By taking on the loophole lobby, we can find the revenue to permanently abolish the natural gas utility tax. […]
Why not a moratorium on unfair loopholes in the tax code as an important way to pay the bills faster?
* Meanwhile, Illinois Statehouse News has a story about some of Gov. Quinn’s proposed budget cuts…
Funding for domestic violence shelters in Quinn’s budget would be cut by $2.3 million, from $18.8 million this year to $16.5 million.
Cutting aid to these shelters is like cutting funding to a local fire department, because people never know when they will need their help, said Vicky Smith, executive director for Illinois Commission Against Domestic Violence, a nonprofit that works against the abuse of women and children.
“They are emergency crisis-intervention services and need to be available when people need the assistance,” Smith said. Quinn’s cuts are “not good. This is a very, very high risk population that needs help immediately.”
In Illinois, there are 63 domestic violence shelters, and the proposed funding cut would shrink that number, Smith said.
Quinn’s budget also zeros out funding for youth substance and alcoholism abuse from the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Family and Community budget.
Eliminating the $2.6 million in prevention funding would cut services to more than 34,000 children, but it would be more than just the children affected, said Eric Foster, chief operating officer for the Illinois Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Association, a nonprofit lobbying group that represents drug and alcohol abuse centers statewide.
“Substance abuse prevention services affect every single aspect of the state — health care, law enforcement corrections, the courts,” Foster said.
* An Alternative Solution To The Illinois Budget Crisis: The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability released a report today touting the benefits of a graduated income tax. This is compared to the status quo where all residents – from Derrick Rose to your neighbor – pay five percent of their yearly income to the state.
* Quinn: Public safety a top priority with prison closures
* Hospital deal appears unlikely before Thursday deadline
* Hospitals ready if talks break down on taxes
* Home health care workers protest proposed Illinois budget cuts
* More staff cuts ahead for Plainfield schools
* Sandack says no hopes emerge from Quinn’s budget