School funding bill described as another threat to Illinois homeowners
Heidi Holan is at a loss to understand how state lawmakers can justify raising property taxes as part of the new school funding formula at a time when the value of most taxpayers’ homes is either flat or falling.
“Families have already reached a crisis point, and many of them are losing their homes, and now this,” Holan, the executive director of the Homeowners Defense Association (HAD), told the Chicago City Wire. “We already pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and that fact is already driving people and business out of the state in droves.”
SB1947, signed into law by Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday, provides the long-troubled Chicago Public School system with at least $450 million more than last year. It also sets the stage for the Chicago Board of Education to increase its maximum property tax rate for Chicago Teachers Pension Fund collections by nearly 50 percent, or approximately $221 million.
“Going forward, our goal will be to help as many families as we can understand what is happening and provide them with the resources to advocate for reform,” Holan said.
HAD recently launched DefendHomeowners.com, a website devoted to mobilizing homeowners and advocating for tax reform.
With the 2018 campaign season fast approaching, Holan said that the agency will also strive to have an advisory referendum on the question of a 1 percent hard cap on property tax increases.
“Property taxes is the biggest reason behind all the outmigration the state is experiencing,” she said. “We need to be addressing the single problem that’s affecting the most people. I can’t understand why there is no property tax relief provided in this education funding bill as a trade-off for all the increased funding.”
Holan said the lone bright spot in the bill is the $75 million tuition tax credit program negotiated by Rauner that allows low-income families the option of sending their children to private or parochial schools. Most Democrats and education unions opposed the plan.
“I’m a strong proponent of school choice, so I support the scholarship part of the bill,” she said.