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Enough study; time
to act on education
funding problems


On December 11 Governors State University served as host for a video conference entitled "Power to the Children: School Funding and Tax Reform in Illinois." The participants represented various business, education and regional organizations. Each gave a historical perspective to the issue and what potential problems lie ahead. For those citizens not familiar with the school funding problem, it provided great insight.

However, not once during the 90-minute session was the real cause of the problem addressed: quite simply, how to obtain the attention of the two individuals who lead and run the Illinois House in the General Assembly House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and Republican Leader Lee A. Daniels.

Recent developments demonstrate that these two individuals still are not convinced of the need to address the issue. Daniels stated: "It will be up to the Democrats when they take over [in January] to come up with a bill to fix school funding."

This change from Daniels' prior willingness to lead was described as a shift from a pragmatic House speaker to being a more partisan House minority leader already looking ahead to the 1998 state legislative campaigns.

And Madigan, to demonstrate his commitment to leadership and desire to address substantive issues, stated:

"Although most people in the state would like to see some change in the system of funding public schools . . . any Democratic plan would require months of study."

What? Another study? The people of Illinois have already had, paid for and been educated with, just in the past four years, a minimum of three in-depth analyses of the school funding issue. There was the Report of the Illinois Task Force on School Finance released in January 1993, after more than 30 hearings. Also, a group of Illinois House Republicans held multiple hearings across the state from February through March 1995. And the Governor's Commission on Education Funding released its report in March 1996 after more than five public forums.

This issue has been studied enough. What the people, the taxpayers, property owners and children of this state need is a House speaker who is willing to responsibly lead and address the issues facing the state. There is still time for Madigan or Daniels to be that person.

What both individuals need to learn is that providing more tax monies to schools and awarding substantive property tax relief does not hurt one's political majority.

For example, in the 1990 election the Democrats had a net gain of five seats in the Illinois House, one year after the passage of the "temporary tax surcharge," which later was made permanent.

It is time to give the people of Illinois a little more credit for their intelligence and the tax revenues they provide to the state's budget.

We welcome responsible actions to the problems.

James T. Durkin
Michael D. Turay

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Your comments on articles and columns are welcome. Please keep letters brief (250 words). We reserve the right to excerpt them. Send letters to:

Letters to the Editor
Illinois Issues
University of Illinois at Springfield
Springfield, IL 62794-9243

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40 / February 1997 Illinois Issues

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