Burzynski bill boosts school tax?

Burzynski bill boosts school tax?

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

Our state Sen. Brad Burzynski (R-35) is making a case for more education taxes.

It’s known as SB 299 and is one of a flurry of tax hike bills put in the hopper this session.

Burzynski’s bill would allow District 205 and other Illinois school districts to impose a local “income tax” on top of the existing state income tax and, presumably, the property tax.

Burzynski is referring to this measure as property tax relief, but nobody is openly talking about abolishing the property tax. At the end of May, this plan was sitting in the Senate Revenue Committee. Burzynski did not return calls from The Rock River Times regarding this legislation.

A similar bill, sponsored by Burzynski’s colleague, Rep. David Wirsing, is bottled up in committee in the House.

Burzynski’s idea would let the school districts levy this tax without referendum. In fact, no referenda is a key feature of most of the tax boost bills presented this year.

News of the Burzynski bill was not welcome where Mary Hitchcock and Barb Dent of R.E.A.C.H. are concerned. “I would be very much against any additional tax,” Dent said. “I would like to see reform in the way schools are funded. We would need to eliminate the property tax then, as the tort tax proved just giving more tax money does not improve the schools,” she said.

Hitchcock echoed that observation. “Studies have shown more money does not improve education; in fact, it hurts it,” she said.

Two other bills that have been characterized as “taxpayer-gouging” appear to have been stopped cold as a result of citizen outrage. They are SB 22 and SB 1171. The first was introduced by Sen. Steven Rauschenberger of Elgin.

Rauschenberger’s bill was intended to allow school districts to increase property tax extensions without referendum and would raise the overall debt limit 30 percent. The extensions supposedly would be for safety purposes. In many cases, that has meant such safety features as swimming pools, sauna baths and other goodies.

SB 1171 is a favorite of Senate President James “Pate” Philip. It would erode tax caps for park districts and create loopholes, again without a vote. It passed the Senate and was sent to the House. There it was amended to give park districts even more loopholes to work with, according to some critics.

SB 22 resides in the House Rules Committee, while SB 1171 went back to the Senate to be reviewed and considered in its amended form.

The National Taxpayers United of Illinois asserts that these bills are only a part of the Republican Senate’s concerted attack on tax caps and other attempts to protect the taxpayer from severe financial damage.

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