Right on the heels of our article noting the latest tax increment financing (TIF) reform activism in Chicago, the Reader's Ben Joravksy published a related piece
yesterday on the newly-formed Raise Your Hand (RYH) coalition. The city's
most dogged TIF reporter talked to a few parents involved in the
organization, who offered more specifics about how they want to see the system changed to exempt the Chicago Public Schools from having their tax revenue siphoned off into TIF accounts.
I talked to Goldman this morning to get a clarification on RYH's
proposal. While the organization originally told Joravsky that the state's
TIF statute would need to be revised to exempt CPS, he now thinks it might be possible for city officials to achieve the same outcome by amending the ordinance that establishes each TIF district.
Regardless of the level of government, Goldman believes that there won't be any action without Mayor Daley's blessing, which is why the
organization is still requesting a meeting with his
administration on the issue. Joined by State Rep. and Democratic Cook County commissioner candidate John Fritchey, the coalition pressed the mayor again outside the Thompson Center this morning. Watch:
In an effort to shore up a $427 million budget deficit, the Chicago School Board voted today to allow Chicago Public School chief Ron Huberman to increase class sizes to 35, thereby triggering thousands of teacher layoffs.
"I think the big issue is for us is liquidity. Ordinarily we don't have
a liquidity problem. But if in effect we're making an interest-free
loan to the state, that pretty well exhausts our liquidity. That takes
a very difficult problem and begins to make it unmanageable. At some
point down the road, we'll simply not be able to make payroll. That's
the bottom line."
In criticizing the politics that restrain Illinois' budget negotiations, we've long contended that Democrats in Springfield routinely undersell the benefits of comprehensive tax reform. State Rep.
Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) apparently agrees. During an appearance on WFLD's
Fox Chicago Sunday yesterday, the Elementary Appropriations
Committee Chair made the important point that the state's over-reliance
on property taxes to fund education and other crucial services has been
a consistent problem. "It's broken," she said. "And it's been broken since I got there eight years ago." She added that both sides "need to get to the table ... and find out how we can restructure our tax base so we can fund education." Watch it (the full interview is available here):
Meanwhile, Carl Nyberg points out that, elsewhere in the interview, Chapa LaVia didn't exactly have her facts straight about the controversy surrounding Mark Kirk's military record.
Chicago Public School officials announced
that they will hold an emergency budget meeting vote tomorrow to borrow
$800 million and agree to raise class sizes. According to a press
release, Karen Lewis, the new president-elect of the Chicago Teachers Union, will
lead a teacher protest of the board's planned actions.
Officials on the suburban Indian Prairie District 204 school board are proposing
a change to Illinois law that would allow schools to keep their
employees' state income tax withholdings if Illinois fails to make its
mandated education funding payments. The district approved a resolution
supporting the proposal on Monday. Before it's recommended to the
General Assembly, the entire Illinois Association of School Boards
would have to endorse the idea by November.