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Quinn's Five-Year Budget Blueprint Highlights Education and Income Tax

3/26/2014
Yesterday, Governor Pat Quinn revealed his FY2015 budget blueprint in Springfield with a stark warning: permitting the state's 5 percent flat income tax to drop to 3.75 percent in January will create a massive, unprecedented crisis for schools, critical government services, and most likely, sharp increases in local property taxes.
 
Instead, and to the Governor’s credit, he presented a bold and serious plan to invest more money into our schools and communities under very challenging circumstances.
 
For that reason, the IFT supports his proposal.
 
While some headlines may focus only on income taxes without the broader context of our structural deficit, the alternative is dire:
"If action is not taken," Quinn said, "extreme cuts will be imposed on education and critical public services, cuts that will starve our schools and result in mass teacher layoffs, larger class sizes, and higher property taxes."
These cuts would end childcare access for more than 41,000 Illinois kids, leave more than 30,000 people without needed mental health assistance, evict hundreds of veterans from state-supported veterans’ homes and end college grants for at least 30,000 Illinois students. Those few examples are just part of what a 20 percent slash to government would mean next year alone.

The plan Quinn proposed is a continuation of current tax rates aimed to stabilize state finances, boost investment in education, and provide Illinois homeowners with a $500 annual property tax rebate.

The governor’s approach to budgeting is different this year than in the past. Quinn has taken a long-term, five-year view of Illinois’ finances. Some highlights include:

Quinn Proposal: $1.5 Billion for Early Childhood Education
The governor proposed what he calls “the highest investment in education in Illinois history.” Under his plan, $1.5 billion will be dedicated to early childhood education under the Birth to Five Initiative. This provides real numbers behind the Governor’s State of the State speech in February, where he pledged to make early childhood education a priority.

Quinn Proposal: $6 Billion More for Schools
Over the past five years, Springfield politicians have slashed PreK-12 investment by more than $715 million. The results have caused massive reductions in teachers, school support personnel, and other education professionals. Equally as troubling is the skyrocketing number of Illinois school districts that are operating with deficit spending. In 2008, about one-third of districts were forced to spend more than they took in. In FY14, 532 districts (a whopping 62 percent of all districts) are in deficit spending, depleting any reserves they may have, creating long-term debt, and putting thousands of dedicated education personnel on unemployment lines. Governor Quinn’s plan earmarks an additional $6 billion in education funding over the next five years, modestly reversing the recent trend of cuts in what remains the worst state in the nation when it comes to investing in schools. 

Quinn Proposal: Boost College Affordability
For FY15, Governor Quinn recommended doubling the Monetary Award Program (MAP) scholarships for needy college-bound students. This represents a $50 million increase.

Quinn Proposal: Tax Relief
Governor Quinn also pledged to provide Illinois homeowners with an annual $500 property tax rebate. Additionally, the governor suggested doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for lower income Illinois workers.

Illinois is at a crossroads. Fortunately, lawmakers are talking seriously about modernizing our tax code to achieve stability and fairness. Last week, Speaker Madigan proposed a 3 percent state income tax surcharge for Illinois residents making more than $1 million a year. The revenue would be invested directly into our schools on a per-pupil basis. We are encouraged by this very positive first step in moving us toward a fair tax system in Illinois, with lower rates for lower incomes and higher rates for higher incomes.
 
This budget blueprint and the millionaire tax begin to address our twin problems of inadequate and inequitable school funding, and we’re looking forward to working with the Governor and lawmakers on both efforts.

We know it’s not enough – our unsustainable tax code and funding formulas need a comprehensive overhaul – but it’s a promising start.


In the meantime, you can find the Governor’s full budget proposal here.

The State Board of Education budget info can be found on page 432, Teachers Retirement Systems on page 440, State Universities and the related Higher Education agencies begin on page 442 and end on page 477.

And as always, please continue to check our website frequently and follow us on social media for the latest updates.

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