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School finance: the dawn

Editor: I commend the insight and the observations in the March edition of Illinois Issues, "Equalizing school funding and the 1970 Constitutional Convention." This article supports my point: To expect Illinois school finance problems to be corrected within another decade or two is naive. History may judge this time for us as adolescence.

We should not expect any one organized group, task force or court action to find us a grand solution. Specific groups have been found guilty of promoting fiscal shenanigans, the task force will be accused of trying to make a peach from a lemon, and the court will determine that the situation is truly sour.

The Illinois State Board of Education, a primary named defendant, continues spouting around the state publicly confessing their guilt while their attorneys defend their innocence. The named defendant always retains and directs the attorney. They should direct their attorneys to plead "no contest," for I fear these professionals will spend some "time." Certainly this mockery and sham upon our country's judicial system will not last four or more years.

The basic problem is simple. School finance in Illinois has become too dependant upon an inequitable tax. Property tax is the largest dollar-generating tax in our state and is not based upon the ability to pay. It preys upon the elderly, those on fixed income and farmers. We must correct one problem at a time or the situation will overwhelm us.

Without restrictions we should applaud and apply the 5 percent property tax cap throughout the state. We should enact legislation that no local property tax rate shall generate more than 49 percent of the total dollars spent by any school district. Severe you bet, but long-term mediocracy in education is equal to devastation. Immediate action will be required.

If we continue our present course, our future generations will find the last family farm shedding the final tear. The guiding light we thought we saw was the dawning of the abyss for us all.

Kimble K. Alexander
Fifth generation farmer
Delavan

Readers: Your comments on articles and columns are welcome. Please keep letters brief (250 words); we reserve the right to excerpt them so as many as space allows can be published. Send your letters to:

Caroline Gherardini, Editor
Illinois Issues
Sangamon State University
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9243

4/May 1992/Illinois Issues


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