** The following article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and is recommended for all members by President Charlie Hogan:
Democrats say data show schools suffer if tax rate trimmed back
BY BECKY SCHLIKERMAN Staff Reporter April 16, 2014 9:34PM
The office of Senate President John Cullerton released data on Wednesday predicting dire consequences for Illinois schools if an increase in the state’s income-tax rate isn’t made permanent.
Updated: April 17, 2014 2:27AM
Illinois Senate Democrats are predicting grim consequences for schools if the scheduled rollback of state income tax rates goes into effect next year.
In all, school districts would lose more than $450 million in general state aid funding next fiscal year, according to data released by Senate President John Cullerton’s office Wednesday.
Chicago Public Schools would lose almost $174 million, according to the data.
“It’s going to have a major impact on the lives of students and the people who educate them,” said State Sen. Dan Kotowski, D-Park Ridge.
The state income tax rollback has been a contentious issue.
Gov. Pat Quinn last month said he would push for a permanent extension of the temporary 67-percent hike he enacted in 2011 to help pare a multibillion-dollar backlog of unpaid bills and pay increasing state pension obligations.
On Wednesday, after Democrats released their data, Senate Republicans shot back.
“We don’t believe the scenario they’ve created — that without an extension of their 67 percent income-tax increase the state budget will collapse,” said Patty Schuh, spokeswoman for Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno. “We believe they are attempting to create a crisis to justify going back to taxpayers’ pockets.”
Schuh said Democrats “have not made education a priority” the past 10 years they’ve run the Statehouse.
“The Democrats have chosen to spend taxpayers money in other areas, so who would believe now that education would be a priority?” she said.