FY06 Budget Fails to Address Comprehensive Reform
lawmakers should have been hitting the books to forge a long-term solution to
the state’s school funding and property tax dilemma, they instead rushed
headlong into summer break, hastily approving a fiscal year 2006 (FY06) budget
based largely on short-sighted quick-fixes, according to A+ Illinois, a campaign
for comprehensive, statewide education funding and tax reform.
state’s FY06 budget not only fails to adequately fund Illinois schools today,
but it also will put us right back in the same situation next year,” according
to Bindu Batchu, manager, A+ Illinois. “This budget does not present a long-term
solution to the state’s school funding and property tax crisis, and A+ Illinois
urges state legislators to work in the coming months to build consensus around a
The FY06 budget is based on the
diversion over the next two years of more than $2 billion in payments to teacher
and state worker pensions. In the long run, taxpayers will have to make up for
these payments at a large expense.
as concerning, the budget “robs from Peter to pay Paul,” raiding about $160
million from important programs, including several that provide vital services
to children and families.
The budget earmarks more than $300
million to elementary and secondary schools, approximately $200 million of which
is dedicated to general state aid. The funding is expected to increase the
minimum per-pupil spending amount for public schools – also known as the
foundation level – by $200, from $4,964 to $5,164. While this is a notable
increase, the state will still fall
short per pupil of providing a quality education, according to the Education
Funding Advisory Board, appointed by Gov. Blagojevich to determine the
recommended foundation level.
budget also fails to remedy the state’s over-reliance on property taxes to fund
education. This arrangement is placing an ever-growing burden on small business
owners, seniors on fixed incomes, and thousands of hardworking families across
are struggling to afford escalating property taxes.
all of the budget’s shortcomings, the governor said,
"I think the winners in this budget
and in this session are parents and children, senior citizens, working people
and taxpayers, business, doctors and their patients.”
schoolchildren, families and businesses are losing out. Under the
administration, between FY03 and FY04, elementary class sizes grew by five
percent. Meanwhile, last year the state employed 3,400 fewer teachers. And, for
the second year running, the state has no plans to invest in updating and
improving school facilities.
The need for school-funding and
property tax reform has never been greater, and this session state leaders made
great strides to advance comprehensive legislation. Senate President Emil Jones
and state Senators Miguel del Valle (D-Chicago), James Meeks (
), and Rick Winkel (R-Champaign) are
to be commended for rallying
bipartisan Senate legislative committee to approve a school funding and tax
reform proposal – a first, in nearly a decade. All schools would have benefited
under the proposals, which would have raised the foundation level to at least
$6,100 and fully funded the state share of special education mandates. However,
comprehensive school funding reform proposals ran up against a blockade, erected
by the governor’s refusal to raise taxes coupled with a lack of political will.
A+ Illinois urges state leaders to
work during the summer session to develop a plan for comprehensive reform.
is more important to the future well-being of the state’s two million
schoolchildren or its economic vitality than fixing
school-funding system now.
A+ Illinois is a campaign of more than 100 organizations
and thousands of individuals across the state committed to real reform in the
quality and funding of public education for all Illinois children. Partner
organizations include AFSCME Council 31, Center for Tax and Budget
Accountability, Chicago Urban League, Illinois Education Association, Illinois
Farm Bureau, Metropolitan Planning Council, Tax Policy Forum and Voices for
Illinois Children. Visit