Following a Sept. 26 meeting of the DuPage Legislative Education Network of DuPage County (LEND) Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont) and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) spoke out about the negative impact Senate Bill 16 will have on suburban school districts and taxpayers.
Durkin noted that while the legislation is currently being held in the House, media reports that Democrats have been holding closed-door meetings on the legislation suggest debate on Senate Bill 16 will likely be revived during the upcoming fall veto session.
“Because the Democrats are meeting in secret on Senate Bill 16, you can be assured they are making changes to the bill and it will look much different in the House than it does in its current form,” said Durkin. “I suspect a proposal to shift school employee pension costs from the state to local taxpayers could be included in the plan as well as higher taxes. Combining Senate Bill 16 with a pension cost shift is a formula for disaster that will have a devastating effect on suburban school districts in particular.”
Radogno explained Senate Bill 16 is a massive rewrite of the state’s school aid formula that radically redistributes state education dollars.
“We can all agree that Illinois desperately needs to reform its school funding system,” Radogno said. “Our own analysis found the current system antiquated and inadequate. But this plan creates new ‘winners’ and ‘losers.’ That doesn’t fix the problems with the inequities. The result is money diverted out of DuPage County and other suburban areas, which receive very little state support now. That means higher property taxes for us all.
“Senate Bill 16 is punitive legislation, penalizing some of the state’s best schools by taking away much of what little financial assistance they receive. Schools in DuPage County would lose a total of $84.9 million in state funding—and some districts would face cuts of seventy, even more than eighty percent,” said Radogno. “The result will be a greater financial burden placed in the laps of suburban property taxpayers, most of whom would say they are already shouldering far more than their fair share.”
The Republican leaders noted that in the past Democrats have been more than willing to use a lame duck session to pass controversial legislation, pointing to the 67 percent income tax hike Democrat leaders pushed through during the final hours of a lame duck session in 2011.
“We need to go back to the drawing board and work together on a more equitable school funding measure,” said Radogno. “We want to hear from the stakeholders on this issue, not Democrats meeting behind closed doors.”
“With less than 40 days until the election and a lame duck session just around the bend, taxpayers need to be aware of what may be coming. We are sounding the alarm because of what we have experienced in the past. By engaging local educators, parents and taxpayers we have a shot at stopping Senate Bill 16 and the cost shift because it is this bad for our schools and taxpayers,” said Durkin.