Illinois’ property tax system topic of latest Illinois School Funding Reform Commission

Meeting for the fifth time, the bipartisan Illinois School Funding Reform Commission discussed Illinois’ property tax system and its implications for school funding during its meeting Oct. 5.

Tom Johnson, the former President of the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois who is now retired, discussed the recent historical trend of Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) throughout the state. He illustrated for lawmakers that since 2009, EAV in Illinois has dropped 23 percent. Because the state’s school funding formula relies heavily on property taxes, which are calculated using EAV, this decline has dramatically impacted school districts. 

Johnson also showed how the breakdown of commercial property and residential property within a school district’s boundaries can impact tax revenue for that school district. In addition, he explained to lawmakers for both PTELL (Property Tax Extension Limitation Law) and non-PTELL districts, how tax rates are calculated and talked about the Cook County property classification system. Finally, Johnson described Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts and how they apply to available local resources. 

The commission will meet again Oct. 19 and continue the discussion on how property taxes impact the state’s school aid formula.

Topics legislators discussed at previous meetings of the Commission included the hold harmless provision, funding distribution models, the relationship between school funding and workforce readiness, reviewing the “evidence-based” approach to funding education, and exploring best practices in school funding, among other topics. 

The 25-member Commission includes five designees from the Rauner Administration and five designees from each of the four legislative caucuses. Chaired by Secretary of Education Beth Purvis, the Commission is tasked with making recommendations to the General Assembly to revise the current school funding formula by Feb. 1, 2017.

Chapin Rose

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