contentious idea of raising the state's income tax is getting renewed consideration in
Springfield, setting the stage for a clash in 2007 that could affect public education--and
taxpayers' wallets--for years to come.
But the hurdle for winning approval still will be high.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has pledged not to raise the state income tax and won't
back down, his staff said.
But a new, bipartisan caucus of lawmakers wants to bolster state aid for
per-student spending by more than $1 billion, and it is expected to include a
state-tax hike in its education proposals.
School finance reform advocates are gearing up their grass-roots campaign,
hoping to make a tax increase palatable to wary citizens. Key to any changes,
they say, is convincing residents that the quality of education will increase as
their state tax bills rise.
"The conversations too often devolve into debates about funding. You lose
people when you don't talk about what's going to change," said MarySue Barrett,
president of the Metropolitan Planning Council and a partner in
the A+ Illinois campaign, which has been pushing tax reform for
schools since 2004.