Property taxes were again the topic of discussion during the sixth Illinois School Funding Reform Commission meeting on October 19. Commission members continued their conversation from the October 5 meeting on how property taxes influence school funding.
Illinois now has the highest median property taxes in the nation, surpassing New Jersey. Members of the commission are exploring ways to reform a school funding system that relies heavily on property taxes. Concerns were raised that certain communities, particularly the City of Chicago, have high property values but very low property tax rates. Senate Republican lawmakers noted that though the City of Chicago has the resources to raise money locally to fund Chicago Public Schools (CPS), CPS still disproportionately benefits from special allowances protected in state law that are not afforded to any other school district in Illinois.
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.