PI Original Angela Caputo Wednesday May 20th, 2009, 5:36pm

School Funding Reform Clears Another Hurdle

Over the years, State Sen. James Meeks' school funding reform plan has had many incarnations in the statehouse and has always been considered an
underdog. But as we noted yesterday, the current version, SB 750, seems to be gaining some steam amid the current budget ...

Over the years, State Sen. James Meeks' school funding reform plan has had many incarnations in the statehouse and has always been considered an underdog. But as we noted yesterday, the current version, SB 750, seems to be gaining some steam amid the current budget negotations. Today, the plan picked up even more momentum as it passed out of the Senate Education Committee by a 6-3 vote.

By the time we reported on the issue yesterday, 18 legislators had signed on as co-sponsors. The list has now grown to 21 and includes Senate President John Cullerton who has previously supported the idea. That final signature "gave the bill a lot of credibility to get it out of committee and onto the floor," Barb Quinn, chair of the statewide Better Funding for Better Schools coalition, tells us.

For those unfamiliar with the legislation, State School News Services Jim Broadway sums it up below:

SB 750 would increase the personal income tax by two percentage points, from 3% to 5%, and broaden the sales tax base to include services commonly taxed in other states. It would not raise the corporate income tax. It would generate $7 billion for education and other state programs and services, including income and property tax relief.

The bill would double the income tax credit for property taxes, and give that credit to businesses. It would triple the value of the Earned Income Tax Credit and make other tax relief adjustments for middle- and lower-income taxpayers - 60% or all income taxpayers.

From the balance, roughly $1 billion would be allocated to K-12 education operations, $300 million for higher education and $1 billion for capital construction.

The measure could come up for a Senate vote by Friday.  If it were to pass, it's anyone's guess how the measure will be dealt with in the House, where Speaker Michael Madigan continues to hold his cards close to the vest. Quinn doesn't appear to be ruling SB 750 out, either; according to Broadway, supporters believe the governor is seriously interested in the concept.

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