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Archive → May 10th, 2016

More than 60 percent of property-tax revenue goes toward their local school districts.

Many Illinoisans sense their property taxes are out of control, but not all of them know more than 60 percent of property-tax revenue goes toward their local school districts.

Illinois has 859 local school districts – the fifth-most in the nation. Many are large, expensive and redundant bureaucracies that contribute to Illinois’ growing debt, waste and corruption. Those districts are ripe for consolidation.

If all school districts in Illinois managed half a dozen schools and thousands of children, the high count of districts might be justifiable. But that’s not the case.

The reality is nearly half of Illinois school districts serve just one to two schools. And over one-third of all Illinois school districts have fewer than 600 students. Having two layers of bureaucracy in such small districts is inefficient and a huge drain on taxpayers’ wallets.

To clarify: The reform advocated here is district consolidation, not school consolidation. School consolidations should remain a local decision. District consolidations, however, have the potential to reduce costs for the entire state – and especially for all those burdened by Illinois’ high property taxes.

The majority of savings from consolidation would come from reduced administrative costs.

More than three-quarters of Illinois’ superintendents have six-figure salaries, and many also get additional benefits in car and housing allowances, as well as bonuses.

Those high salaries lead to pension benefits of $2 million to $6 million each over the course of their retirements.

Just look at the salaries and pensions of the top-paid school district administrators in Illinois.

Eliminating those salaries and pension costs could save Illinoisans a great deal of money.

School district consolidation would eliminate waste, cut spending, streamline services

Illinois’ school district structure is incredibly inefficient, especially when compared with peer states with student populations of similar size.

For example, if Illinois school districts served the same number of students as school districts in California, the most populous state in the country, serve, Illinois would have just 342 school districts. And if Illinois school districts served the same number of students as North Carolina’s, Illinois would have just one-fifth of the school districts it has today – and one-fifth of the administrative bloat.

By cutting the number of school districts in half, Illinois could experience district operating savings of nearly $130 million to $170 million annually and could conservatively save the state $3 billion to $4 billion in pension costs over the next 30 years.

For example, consider what would happen if New Trier Township High School District 203 and its six elementary feeder districts were consolidated. Combining these seven districts into one would eliminate many of the 136 administrators directly employed at the seven district offices.

By consolidating seven sets of staff, New Trier could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in salary and pension costs over the next 30 years.

Local taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for multiple layers of government that duplicate services, waste tax dollars, increase government debt, and decrease transparency.

Taxpayers need consolidation reform

There are currently so many school districts in Illinois that they’ve escaped accountability.

That’s why school districts have managed to amass $20 billion in debt, or $10,000 per Illinois student, and why property taxes in Illinois have grown three times faster than household incomes since 1990.

And that’s why school district consolidation is an important and necessary reform for Illinois.

To clarify, however, reforms should focus on district consolidations, not school consolidations. School consolidations should remain a local decision.

New consolidation efforts should also end the state’s policy of providing financial incentives to districts for consolidating. And to prevent local property taxes from rising, any new consolidation efforts should develop policies that block the merger of teachers contracts in any newly combined districts.

To that end, the state should create a district consolidation commission, similar to the Base Closure and Realignment Commission that closes and consolidates U.S. military bases.

Illinois’ commission would focus on cutting the cost of duplicative district administrations. The commission’s recommendations would be subject to an up or down vote in the General Assembly, meaning no amendments would be permitted.

If done properly, school district consolidation would lead to significant savings for both local taxpayers and the state – and, if taxpayers demand it, could lead to even greater reforms in education.

Ted Dabrowski

Vice President of Policy

Source: Will County News

The Illinois Way is failing Democrats in Chicago and Springfield

Editorial Board  May 7, 2016

Sea change usually doesn’t wash over the political environs of Chicago or Springfield. Transformation in government, if it comes at all, flows so slowly it can be undetectable. But in recent months, if you were standing still, you might have felt subtle shifts.

The Illinois Way — tax, borrow, spend — seems to be losing its appeal. The Democrat-controlled Chicago City Council and Illinois General Assembly are struggling to rally support for their so-called progressive agendas. Even proposals that would tax the rich are flopping, despite the blockbuster success of class warfare politics practiced by Democratic candidates for president Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

In Springfield, recent casualties include a graduated state income tax proposal that would have punished upper-income earners. The House sponsor, Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, didn’t call the measure for a vote because he couldn’t muster enough support despite his party’s supermajority.

House Speaker Michael Madigan has been unable to build enough support for his proposal to add a tax surcharge on millionaires. Remember, he’s the speaker.

And legislation in Springfield that would rescue Chicago Public Schools has floundered for at least two years. CPS officials and the Chicago Teachers Union have been begging for more tax money from the city and the state. CTU recently released a proposal to increase taxes on gasoline, property, hotels — a long list — to prop up the district’s budget.

But such pleas now go largely ignored. Mayor Rahm Emanuel shut the door to the CTU’s tax plan almost immediately.

Schools CEO Forrest Claypool basically admitted the district, now rated at junk bond status, can only access lines of credit as it tries to limp along. Long-term borrowing isn’t feasible because the interest rates imposed on the nearly-insolvent district are too high.

Yet no one is bailing out CPS, not City Hall or the state, as they have in the past under similar “doomsday” scenarios.

Meanwhile, the public reacted sourly to Emanuel’s plan to borrow $1.2 billion for a George Lucas museum on the lakefront. With Chicago schools destitute, teachers threatening to strike sometime this year and violent crime climbing, a taxpayer-enabled favor for a billionaire filmmaker hit a collective nerve.

Emanuel, with his subservient City Council of fellow Democrats, usually gets what he wants, especially shiny new baubles. Not happening this time.

What gives?

Perhaps Democrats are realizing that this city and state cannot tax their way out of debt or into prosperity. The temporary state income tax hike of 2011 took an extra $31 billion out of taxpayers’ pockets but — despite Democrats’ forceful promises — did little to change the debt-driven trajectory of state government. Taxpayers are still paying a rate of 3.75 percent, a rate one-quarter higher than before the hike. It has made no difference. Illinois’ unpaid bill pile grows every day.

Chicago taxpayers will see a spike in this summer’s property tax bills, thanks to Emanuel and the council approving the largest property tax hike in the city’s history last fall — $755 million in new taxes and fees. Yet the city still will be awash in pension liabilities and other debts.

CPS will raise its property tax levy to the maximum allowed, and it’s not enough.

All of this comes in addition to a new study confirming that Illinoisans pay the highest median property tax rate in the country. California-based analytics company CoreLogic reviewed real estate taxes nationwide. The study found that an Illinois property owner with a home valued at $200,000 will, on average, pay $2,720 more in property taxes annually than the national average.

Oh — and have you heard that, with an assist from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and her board’s Democrats, Chicago’s sales tax is now the nation’s highest? Lots of consumers who shop elsewhere can tell you all about it.

This page has been writing, arguably not enough, about taxpayers’ debts and public sector pensions for decades. One 1991 editorial hammered lawmakers and then-Gov. James Thompson, a compliant Republican, for agreeing to a new pension funding formula and then ignoring the payment schedule. Under the deal, Thompson’s own pension doubled.

But if the failures of Democratic, progressive fiscal policies in Chicago and Springfield are any indication, perhaps voters are finally keen to the Ponzi schemes. The long reliable tax-borrow-spend model has not worked, is not working, will not work, and voters know it. They’re rebelling with their moving vans.

When Democrats can’t get their own tax-the-rich proposals through a supermajority House and Senate, after multiple tries, that’s a sign of change. When Chicago and Illinois officials balk at borrowing money for a museum construction project, that’s a sign of change. When citizens get wise to the tax-borrow-spend selfishness of forcing Tomorrow to pay for Yesterday and Today, that’s a sign of change.

It’s about time.


Source: Will County News

DOJ Joins DOE to Redefine Sex and Rewrite Law

Call to Action
DOJ Joins DOE to Redefine Sex and Rewrite Law

DOJ Joins DOE to Redefine Sex and Rewrite Law
Written By Laurie HigginsThe federal government through its highly partisan Department of Justice (DOJ) is attempting to make law—again—by attacking North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill.” Last Wednesday, the DOJ sent a letter to NC governor Pat McCrorydemanding that he rescind the law within three working days or face legal action and loss of federal funds.

The DOJ letter erroneously states that the NC law violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on sex. In its infinite ignorance and hubris, the DOJ, has proclaimed that the word “sex” includes “gender identity.”

By attacking North Carolina’s law that requires restrooms in government buildings, state colleges and universities, and highway rest stops to correspond to sex and which does not apply to any private sector entity, the DOJ seeks to make law for the entire country.

This is the same stratagem the Department of Education (DOE) is using to blackmail public schools into allowing gender-dysphoric students into opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms. While the DOJ is using the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the DOE is using Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Both departments—neither of which have law-making authority—have unilaterally redefined the word “sex” in such a way as to make law.

If successful, the DOJ’s effort will be even more profound and destructive because of the scope of the applicability of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Whereas Title IX applies only to schools, Title VII applies to every business in the private sector with over 14 employees; every government entity; and every religious organization, including private elementary, middle, and high schools, private colleges, and churches.

Religious organizations and churches are exempt from Title VII only with regard to the prohibition of religious discrimination and only in hiring practices. Churches, synagogues, and mosques and religious organizations may discriminate based on religion in hiring. In other words, churches, synagogues, and mosques may not be forced to hire persons of other faiths. But how would this redefinition of “sex” in Title VII affect restroom or locker room usage in religious organizations or businesses owned by Christians like Hobby Lobby?

Would the redefinition of the word “sex” to include “gender identity” and “gender expression” require religious organizations, colleges, and churches to allow gender-dysphoric persons to use opposite-sex restrooms and locker rooms? Would this fanciful reinterpretation of Title VII require that a gender-dysphoric father visiting his daughter at a Christian college or a gender-dysphoric woman attending a wedding in a church be allowed in opposite-sex restrooms?

Don’t let deceivers distract you with mocking arguments about how few gender-dysphoric people will be using opposite-sex restrooms; or how few incidents there are of gender-dysphoric men assaulting women or are likely to assault women; or how few predators are pretending to be gender-dysphoric in order to access women’s restrooms, locker rooms, showers, dressing rooms, or shelters.

And certainly don’t be distracted by the stupid comparison of separate restrooms for blacks and whites to separate restrooms for men and women. While there are no substantive differences between blacks and whites, there are substantive differences between males and females,  which even gender-dysphoric persons and homosexuals acknowledge.

The central issue is with the meaning of physical embodiment as male and female.

  • Policies and laws mandating that gender-dysphoric persons be allowed to use opposite-sex restrooms embody and teach the lie that objective maleness and femaleness do not have objective meaning or value.
  • These policies and laws teach that it is not one’s objective, immutable sex that matters but one’s feelings about one’s sex (“gender identity) that matter.
  • These policies and laws teach that modesty and privacy have no intrinsic link to objective maleness and femaleness.

Leftists dismissively claim that anatomical parts are irrelevant when it comes to “gender identity,” modesty, and privacy. They’re demanding that everyone in society treat gender-dysphoric persons in all contexts and ways (including grammatical ways) as if they are in reality the sex they wish they were. So, what are the logical out-workings of this pernicious ideology?

Ultimately, if this view prevails, society will be unable to maintain any separation between men and women—including between normal men and women—in any context. If sexual anatomy has no intrinsic meaning, if privacy and modesty have no connection to objective sex, if objective males must be allowed in women’s showers and restrooms, then there remains no rational justification for separate facilities for men and women or girls and boys.

Since, in the mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world of lunatic leftists, all that matters are feelings about one’s sex, there is no need for surgery, cross-sex hormones, or cross-dressing. So, that “transwoman” (i.e., an actual man) walking naked past your 14-year-old daughter in the health club locker room just might have a chest full of hair, a wooly beard, and a penis. Remember “gender identity” has no fixed meaning, and sexual anatomy is only important if people feel it’s important, sothat “transwoman” in the locker room may even have a penis and furry breasts.

Take ACTION:  Click HERE to send a message to your U.S. representative, urging him or her to rein in the unelected, leftist federal bureaucrats in the Departments of Justice and Education. Demand that the federal government remove itself from issues of local control and stop misusing Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972.

Take Action


Source: Will County News