IL Property Tax Freeze fails in House; local educators respond

ILLINOIS (KFVS) - For months, Governor Rauner demanded a statewide property tax freeze as part of a deal to end a two-year budget stalemate, but today it has failed in the House.

Illinois is the nation's next-to-highest property taxes and this bill would have created a four year freeze, exempting Chicago and 17 other financially distressed school districts.

Cayden Thiele, a rising 4th grade student in Franklin County, worries about potentially losing his favorite classes, art and music, due to more cuts in funding.

"If music and art got cut it would kind of just ruin the school," Thiele said.

His grandmother, Susan Frassato, said "I think those extracurricular programs are very important in them to advance in their relationships with other students…and they can carry this through the rest of their life."

According to Illinois department of revenue, 62% of local property tax goes to local school districts for education. So, Art & Music, Extracurricular Activities, After School Programs are examples of just some of the programs that benefit from this money.

Matt Donkin, the Regional Superintendent for Franklin, Johnson, Massac and Williamson counties, explained that property taxes may be affected as well.

"The one thing you think you have flexibility over right now, property taxes, that too may be taken away as well," Donkin said. "So it puts you in a  position of you're having to deliver a lot of bad news as you're saying NO a lot to the point you could potentially be making cuts a year from now."
On the other side, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner is in favor of freezing property taxes.

"Illinois needs to make changes in order to grow the economy, create jobs and get state finances back on track," Rauner said.

"What we want is our students to walk in a classroom everyday and have the chance to learn and not hopefully notice all of these things that the adults are having to deal with," Donkin said.

Gov. Rauner's spokeswoman, Eleni Demertzis, said:

Property taxes are the highest in the nation and are coupled with the least equitable school funding formula. We need to increase state support to education while changing the school funding formula so it is more equitable and adequate to meet the needs of every student in the state.

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