MPC commends governor's proposals to fund public schools, reduce state's pension debt - Metropolitan Planning Council

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MPC commends governor's proposals to fund public schools, reduce state's pension debt

Chicago-based planning group will continue to advocate for property tax reform

(Chicago) … The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is greatly encouraged by Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s bold plans to improve the funding and quality of our public schools, and to lighten considerably Illinois’ fiscal load by significantly reducing the state’s pension debt.

“For years, we’ve called for meaningful school funding and accountability reforms to ensure all Illinois schoolchildren receive a quality education,” said Scott Goldstein, MPC vice president of policy and planning. “The governor’s Helping Kids Learn plan is a far-reaching proposal that targets significant new state revenues to proven methods for bringing Illinois’ public school system from where it is – a system that struggles to adequately educate Illinois students – to where it needs to be – one that prepares all of our children to compete in the global economy.”

While preparing Illinois ’ future workforce is key to a healthy statewide economy, so, too, is breaking the decades-old cycle of disinvestment that plagues too many Illinois communities. The Metropolitan Planning Council urges state leaders to include property tax reform in the final budget, to ensure communities like Harvey – where property taxes are four times higher for homeowners and nine times higher for commercial properties than the national average – can compete for new business investment and homeowners.

“Only targeted property tax reform will put distressed Illinois communities on a level playing field to attract jobs and tax revenue to support their schools in the long term,” added Goldstein.

The Council still believes that an increase to the personal and corporate income tax and a broadening of the sales tax would be the best way to fund education. The state’s long-term economic well-being also drives MPC’s concerns about the gross receipts tax as a revenue source for funding schools. The “devil will be in the details” to ensure that a gross receipts tax does not create new problems that will hamper economic development and job growth in Illinois.

“We have called for elected officials to put solutions on the table,” said Goldstein. “We look forward to working with the governor and other elected officials to improve upon this plan and finally enact reforms that are sorely needed in Illinois.”

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