Local schools could see big funding cuts if income tax expires - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Local schools could see big funding cuts if state income tax expires

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According to state democrats, school districts across Illinois face nearly half a billion dollars in cuts next year, that is if income taxes roll back as planned.

The temporary tax increase went into effect in 2011, meaning you started giving five percent of every paycheck to the state, when you previously only gave three. Now that hike is set to expire. But state senate democrats say this would mean the state's 860 school districts would have far less money to work with every year.

Starting in Stephenson County, Freeport is looking at a loss of  nearly 1.3 million, while Lena-Winslow may miss out on nearly 500 thousand.

In Boone County, Belvidere would come up 1.7 million dollars short. And North Boone, more than 300 thousand.

All across the state, school districts are currently only receiving about 89 percent of what is promised to them by the state of Illinois. These new cuts equate to an additional ten to 20 percent of annual funding loss.

In Ogle County, the Meridian School District is no stranger to budget deficits. It could face nearly 600 thousand in additional cuts. And in Lee County, cuts would be to the tune of 300 thousands for the Dixon School District.

Finally for Winnebago County, RPS 205, the district with the largest budget would also be facing the biggest cuts, just over 3 million dollars. While curiously, Durand would benefit, gaining 84 thousand dollars.   This is because it is considered a 'poorer' district under the state's current spending formula.

"It's probably one of the most fundamental responsibilities the state of Illinois has with its budget is to provide funding to local schools. And that would make it very difficult to do that if revenue is taken away without looking at other options," says Democratic Senator Steve Stadelman.  

But Republican Senator Dave Syverson says it's not likely these cuts ever happen.  "It's clearly a scare tactic, it's not real. What they're trying to do is paint a doomsday picture. They're going to make the tax permanent whether we like it or not."

Senator Stadelman says there are other options being considered besides simply keeping the income tax rate at 5 percent.  One is a 500 dollar property tax rebate for Illinois homeowners. And another where taxpayers in Illinois could potentially be put into tax brackets based on their income. This would require a public vote.

You can find a complete list of potential cuts here.

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