Quinn camp warns of funding losses under Rauner
By Mike Nolan email@example.com August 28, 2014 3:38PM
Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, Paul Vallas, talks in Orland Park on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, about how Republic gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's tax plan would affect state funding for schools. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 30, 2014 6:17AM
Southland school districts could lose millions of dollars in state education funding under a proposal by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, according to Paul Vallas, Gov. Pat Quinn’s running mate.
During a stop Thursday in Orland Park, Vallas detailed how deep the funding cuts could be for south and southwest suburban school districts. Poorer districts would be hit the hardest and have fewer options to make up for the lost revenue should Rauner’s tax proposal be enacted, Vallas said at the local office of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.
Rauner has called for an overhaul of the state’s tax system, including scaling back the temporary increase in the personal income tax rate, which is scheduled to begin ratcheting down in January. Quinn wants to see that increase become permanent.
Rauner’s tax plan would eliminate an estimated $4 billion in state funding for schools, likely resulting in teacher layoffs, larger class sizes and cuts to school programs, particularly extracurricular activities, claimed Vallas, the former top executive of Chicago’s school system now running for lieutenant governor.
“To say it doesn’t add up is an understatement,” Vallas said.
Rauner’s campaign, responding to Vallas’ analysis, first disclosed Wednesday, said Rauner had no intention of gutting funding for education and countered that, under Quinn, funding for schools had been cut by $500 million. Vallas insisted that Quinn has consistently boosted school funding.
Vallas said that the impact of the estimated cuts “depends on the local wealth of the district.”
Poorer school districts rely more heavily on state dollars than do more affluent districts, and poorer districts typically have stagnant or eroding property tax bases, meaning their ability to levy to make up the difference is limited. Vallas said some districts in the Southland are “tapped out” as far as being able to turn to local taxpayers to boost funding.
“Some of these districts can’t raise their levy any higher,” he said.
In his analysis of how the cuts might impact school districts, Vallas said District 170 in Chicago Heights would see state funding cut by more than $15 million, while Bremen High School District 228 would lose nearly $14 million and District 130 in Blue Island would lose a bit more than $10 million.
Districts in more affluent areas with growing tax bases wouldn’t be immune either, Vallas said.
District 135 in Orland Park would see $2.3 million in state money evaporate, while Consolidated High School District 230 would lose about $4.2 million, according to his analysis.
Along with the potential to affect education quality, Vallas warned the funding cuts would be “a jobs killer,” noting a correlation between “the quality of schools and the business climate” in a community.