Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Daley coalition tackles education funding reform

It makes sense to me. I don't like the idea of raising taxes, but if there is insistence that there is a problem then we should talk about decisions to solve it. Right now there is a debate brewing in Springfield about this Gross Receipts Tax to fund a universal health care program and provide more money for schools. In this debate is to move the burden of school funding from the property tax.

Now we see this news in the Sun-Times today about a new coalition Daley formed.

On Tuesday, a Daley-formed coalition of 272 mayors unveiled a 10-point plan designed by the Civic Federation to guarantee that any new money for education will be spent on programs that impact classroom learning.

Every school board member in Illinois would be required to undergo at least six hours of training on financial oversight. School districts would develop long-term financial plans that include multiyear forecasts of revenue, spending and debt. Long-term capital improvement plans would also be required.

User-friendly budgets would be posted on the Internet. Performance measures would be developed and publicly reported for support services.

The State Board of Education would create an office to police the reforms and impose sanctions against noncomplying school administrators. Ultimately, the state board could withhold funding from school districts that thumb their noses at the reforms and remove recalcitrant administrators.
And a suburban mayor who was with him at a south elementary school had this to say...
At a news conference at the Hampton Fine and Performing Arts School, 3434 W. 77th St., Elgin Mayor Ed Schock called the accountability measures a vital first step toward illusive education funding reform.

"Forty years of history and experience tells us that, when it's money alone, it hasn't succeeded ... So we said, 'Before we talk about money, let's talk about how we're going to be good stewards of the money we're asking people to give us," Schock said.
Maybe I'm wrong but for the most part, I don't recall too many politicians calling for accountability of our public schools. I think this is one angle never tried and worth doing. There are other reforms I'd like to see though, such as vouchers. There's more still...
Daley said the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus would meet next week to get behind a specific funding plan. Instead of choosing between the gross receipts tax proposed by Gov. Blagojevich, the state income tax increase championed by state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) and competing proposals to expand casino gambling, "It's going to be a combination of things," Daley said.

"Everybody believes they're right. Everybody's very emotional, very passionate about this issue," he said.

"Democrats have the House, the Senate and every elected office in state government. We should be able to show the public that we can govern."
So this is what I want to see and other people. An honest discussion about school funding. And that last statement that is in bold, OUCH!!! I think since Democrats locked up control of the Governor's mansion and the General Assembly that has been a problem. And it might still be a problem. Either way hopefully this will work out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered that we wouldn't have such a deep funding issue if the city didn't siphon off $400,000,000 of property taxes every year through TIF districts?

We wouldn't want to upset the apple cart that funds incumbent mayors and aldermen in perpetuity, would we?

Maybe we can sell off more of the taxpayers' assets, like the Skyway, Grant Park garages, etc. to fill the TIF gap.

Don't forget, the trial balloon of selling off the Illinois Lottery was already floated. What's next? Selling O'Hare Field? That'll happen after the taxpayers fund a multi-billion dollar expansion.

Maybe this is how Da Mare gets his casino on Miegs Field, or whatever it's called now - by draining the tax base and then claiming we're broke. "The only thing that can save us is to give me my casino," Da Mare might say.

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