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Question of the day

Friday, May 18, 2018

* From the governor’s recent amendatory veto statement on HB1468

One recommendation of the School Safety Working Group that was well-received by the Legislative Public Safety Working Group and that requires legislation is amending the County School Facilities Sales Tax statute to expand the authorized uses of sales tax revenue approved by local referendum. The tax is currently restricted to improvements in physical facilities, such as locks and security doors. I ask that it be amended to include the hiring of school resource officers or mental health workers based on local determination of local need.

The governor mentioned this provision today when asked about the latest school shooting. So, he’s cleverly given himself some political cover on this topic during the ongoing gun debates.

* From the original statute that the governor wants to amend, with emphasis added by me

In any county, a tax shall be imposed upon all persons engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property, other than personal property titled or registered with an agency of this State’s government, at retail in the county on the gross receipts from the sales made in the course of business to provide revenue to be used exclusively for school facility purposes if a proposition for the tax has been submitted to the electors of that county and approved by a majority of those voting on the question as provided in subsection (c). The tax under this Section shall be imposed only in one-quarter percent increments and may not exceed 1%.

* The Question: Should local school infrastructure sales tax money be used to hire school resource officers and/or mental health workers? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

polls & surveys

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 2:42 pm:

    We used to call proposeals like this “unfunded mandates.” Although, in fairness, this isn’t really a mandate, it simply grants permission.

    OTOH, since he keeps blocking all of the gun control bills put forward by the General Assembly, it’s clear he doesn’t believe the state should help protect children in schools from gun violence. I guess he sees that as a local issue.

  2. - Perrid - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 2:47 pm:

    I don’t see any downside to this. as 47th Ward mentions this just gives options to local districts, which I don’t see any problem with. I wish and hope most districts choose to invest in more outreach to stop kids from deciding to commit murder rather than hiring officers to shoot them when they do decide to murder, but more resources to do either of those things is not a bad thing.

  3. - Juice - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 2:51 pm:

    More flexibility is good. But I suspect that most districts that have the tax use the revenues to cover debt service, so my guess that most will not take advantage of this provision. (And it could weaken some of the bonds that would be issued since the revenues can now be used for multiple purposes instead of just capital.)

  4. - Jocko - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 2:59 pm:

    Voted “No” to the school safety lockbox amendment…given how the transportation one worked out.

  5. - Amalia - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:07 pm:

    we need more mental health help for school children. including because apparently parents don’t lock up their guns and when their kid goes to school every day in a dark trench coat in the Texas heat it does not ring a bell that something might be wrong with him (it’s virtually always him, another issue). protect everyone because parents are far too often not responsible for their kid’s mental health and it may endanger others.

  6. - Try-4-Truth - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:09 pm:

    I voted “no”. Here’s why. 1.) This is something the state should be investing in to begin with. Local governments are stretched too thin (especially smaller ones) to be able to add more taxes to fund non-educational line items. 2.) Sales taxes disproportionally affect lower income families. 3.) Here, in Rockford, if Winnebago County passed this, our sales taxes will be over 10%. Way too high.

  7. - Leigh John-Ella - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:09 pm:

    If Rauner persists in dumping more school pension costs on local taxpayers, should schools also be able to access this fund to help pay those increased pension costs?

  8. - Roman - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:23 pm:

    BTW, the tax cannot be imposed in cook county and it has to be approved by referendum by the voters in each county.

  9. - RNUG - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:24 pm:

    Actually not a bad idea. Gives the school districts options.

  10. - Roman - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:24 pm:

    Here’s a link:

  11. - Try-4-Truth - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:28 pm:

    === - Roman - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:23 pm:

    BTW, the tax cannot be imposed in cook county and it has to be approved by referendum by the voters in each county.===

    Right, and that’s another reason this is a bad idea. It will create yet another way that schools are funded inadequately.

  12. - Undiscovered country - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:36 pm:

    juice raises an interesting point. CAN the funds be diverted to non-infrastructure purposes if the funds are promised for issued bonds? I’m guessing Chapman and Cutler are doing some research as we speak.

  13. - VanillaMan - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:42 pm:

    Empowers schools to individualize each school’s needs.

  14. - My Button is Broke... - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:46 pm:

    I voted no, unless the school districts go back to the voters. In the counties that approved this tax, the schools sold the tax increase for infrastructure improvements not for salaries. So for counties with the tax already in place, go back to the voters for approval. In counties that haven’t already approved the tax, sure, just change the referendum language. It might even help schools get the tax passed.

  15. - Anon - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:47 pm:

    I don’t think Illinois needs more regressive taxes.

    I voted no.

    If the state wants more resource officers and more mental health professionals, they should raise the income tax in order to pay for it.

    The last thing a school district needs in a poor southern Illinois county is an inadequate tax to fund a service.

  16. - JS Mill - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:55 pm:

    The CSFST law was written very narrowly for a reason. They did not want this money used for anything other than facilities and it should stay that way.

    Unlike Iowa where the tax was approved statewide, this is county by county meaning many districts would not have access to this money. This funding should come from the state or through a separate levy source that could require a local referendum.

    BTW- when Rauner was running for governor he was critical of the County Facility Sales Tax at a small event I was present for, so kinda funny he now wants to use this money.

  17. - Bogey Golfer - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    Infrastructure improvements are infrequent, but needed, such as roof repairs, HVAC replacement, accessibility improvements and parking lots. Resource officers and mental health workers should be part of the school/district employee listing.

  18. - SSL - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 4:01 pm:

    Voted yes. It should be funded anyway, but the urgency in dealing with mental health issues for teenagers means we can’t wait. If this mechanism prevents one school attack it’s worth it.

  19. - DarkDante - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 4:10 pm:

    Voted “Yes.” More flexibility in budgeting is, in general, a good thing.

  20. - truthbetold - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 4:15 pm:

    While i think SRO and Mental health workers are important and necessary, the tax legislation was written this way for a reason. Rauner should push for relaxation of the tax cap legislation to allow for district by district additional levies for purposes such as this. It would be surprising to see a referendum defeated if it was intended for this expenditure, especially after events in Fla and TX.

  21. - DuPage - Friday, May 18, 18 @ 4:26 pm:

    Yes for security doors, alarms, security cameras, all doors secured as emergency exits only except one entrance, where a police officer could be stationed. As for the salary of the police officer, NO. That should be at least partly paid by the police dept. or county sheriff. Part could be paid by the state, with a matching school amount paid out of the funds used for operations. Construction money should not be used for salaries.

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