February 25, 2007

Pat Vershoore proposes local option sales tax for school construction funding

On the heels of a proposal by a couple Illinois legislators to ammend the state constitution to eliminate property taxes as the source of school funding, one of those unworkable right wing ideas which is more of a statement than action, Rep. Pat Verschoore, a decidedly low profile politician, (not that there's anything wrong with that) has made the front page of a local paper with his proposal to allow individual counties in Illinois to put to a vote whether to adopt a sales tax hike which would be then restricted to being used for construction of new school buildings and repairs to existing structures. The hike would be limited to a maximum of 1.0%, which means that counties could choose a smaller amount if they wished, and the revenue limited to spending on construction and other major capital improvements only and would not be spent on salaries, transportation, or general maintenance.

(The article in the D/A kindly helped those who might struggle to grasp 1.0% without a calculator by, "put(ing) that in perspective" and telling us that it would add $200 to the cost of a $20,000 car, or $0.30 to a $30 blouse. Can you provide other fun examples? Has marketing research told the D/A that most of their readers function at a first grade math level and might need a little graphical help in putting the concept of 1% "in perspective"?)

Iowa adopted such a plan in 1998 and as a result, every county in the state has adopted the sales tax increase which is expected to bring in $325 million dollars for schools next year.

The issue would be put up for referendum and voters in each county could decide whether to adopt the plan or not. (the piece said that counties "could" bring up the issue for a referenda vote, so apparently it would be up to each county whether they even put it to a vote, and referendum would not be required, though that's not clear.)

Pros include:

- It might stand a better chance of passing than property tax increases due to the fact that the money will not go to teachers salaries. Amazingly and rather shamefully, some voters seem to have a real problem with the notion of increasing salaries for those who educate our children.

- The fact that this could serve as a means of providing desperately needed school funding when voters seem genetically opposed to helping schools by passing property tax referenda.

- The plan has provided the Davenport school district with about $12 million a year without harming the area retail base.

- Evem a 1/2% increase in sales tax in Rock Island County would generate $6.4 million in money for new schools according to Verschoore.

- The Illinois legislature and state has done poorly providing funding for schools. The Illinois legislature has failed to pass a school construction funding bill for 5 years. And even when the state has approved funds, they haven't come through with the money. The D/A article cites the example that the Silvis school district is still waiting for the $12 million the state promised for construction of a new school. The sales tax measure would presumably get the money to the districts quicker and more reliably.

Cons are:

- It will likely be a tough sell to taxpayers who rarely get a chance to actually decide on taxes and who often have the kneejerk reaction to vote anything down that contains the word "tax".

- It might not work as well in Illinois as it has in Iowa. Adding to the tough sell argument is the fact that Illinois already has a higher sales tax rate than Iowa to begin with. And Iowa has a broader sales tax base due to the fact that it taxes many services as well as goods, whereas Illinois does not.

- Some argue that it is a regressive tax that hits those with lower income harder.

- A concern voiced by Rep. Boland is the fact that if some counties adopt the tax and others don't, it may create even greater disparities in school funding, therefore such measures should be adopted state-wide rather than county by county.

The Verschoore proposal would not affect the amount school districts already receive in general state aid and would only affect local sales taxes.

The issue will doubtless be much debated, but it's a good thing that Rep. Verschoore has put it out there for consideration. When schools are so strapped for much needed funding, anything that may help should definitely be considered.


At 2/25/2007 5:12 PM, Blogger diehard said...

It doesn't seem like there is anything new here.
Sales tax seems like an easy way out for politicians who do not have the fortitude to make tough votes.
Hardly worth a newspaper story,[Oh I guess it was in the Dispatch, my mistake]!
Does Pat Verschoore care about schools or does he just want it to look like he cares about it?

At 2/25/2007 7:32 PM, Blogger Benton Harbor said...

At least it's a try. But as one who is quickly approaching retirement age, I'd much rather see the schools taken out of the property tax category and funded by the state income tax. Well over half of my property tax bill goes to the Moline schools and when I'm on a more-or-less fixed income, I'll be danged if I want to see my taxes going up, especially in light of their wish to do a balanced calendar with all the infrastructure work that will be needed to air condition the schools.

But... I dream.

At 2/26/2007 1:55 PM, Anonymous Toby said...

I know Pat and he is very passionate about our schools. His wife was an educator and a damn good one at that. He understands this isuue and is trying to do the right thing. Diehard said..., your questioning Verschoore on this isue shows your ignorance about the man and his fortitude. Maybe instead of questioning his motivations you might pick up the phone or meet with Pat about your concerns about this isuue.
Oh ya. This would take fortitude and from your shallow comments I can see that they may be lacking.

At 2/26/2007 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diehard is a fool! He doesn';t understand anything. All he thinks about is himself. Very selfish. What about the kids?

At 2/26/2007 4:59 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

I expect several commenters to now jump in and scold the above commenter for being "uncivil" and calling names.

Or is that only when I do so?

At 2/26/2007 5:10 PM, Blogger demgorilla said...

I'm not sure the voters of this county will go for more taxes.
I just read that we're going to have a new tax for the Niabi Zoo, a worthy project. On the other hand, the Verschoore plan targets schools, which should be popular.

I think we need to take property taxes out of the education funding equation -- shake up the system, make lawmakers deal with the inequity in education funding. The State Constitution says the state shall have the majority responsibility for schools. This is a Springfield issue, and demands a Springfield solution.

Rep. Boland, you have been in office now 12 or more years. Please point to the progress you have made on the education property tax swap issue? Yes, I'm interested in E-85; but I'm more interested in education. Thank you.

At 2/26/2007 6:57 PM, Anonymous goldenrule said...

Yes, anonymous bloggers and speakout callers should be nicer to one and other.

At 2/26/2007 8:08 PM, Blogger diehard said...

I'm sorry! I was unaware of all the virtues of Rep. Verscoore.
I saw that he wrote a letter to the editor for Cheri Bustos.
That is the first time he has endorsed any candidate.
Wow, that's interesting that he would get involved in an Aldermanic race that is not in his district.
And I wouldn't argue with you about being a fool and being selfish, I plead guilty on all of the above!

At 2/26/2007 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And all races should live in harmony.

And when someone punches you in the jaw, you should turn the other cheek.

And you should eat your vegetables and stay out of trees and wear glasses if you need 'em.

And at a dinner party, never wipe your behind on the drapes.

At 2/27/2007 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason that Vershoore and Hare are endorsing Bustos are they are getting her into position for the run against Boland. I feel that you will see that this is going to be a great victory for Verschoore, Hare, and Bustos.

The time has come.

At 2/27/2007 9:38 AM, Anonymous 123easy said...

I read in the D/A that Rep. Verschoore is grooming Cheri Bustos to run against Boland in the upcoming Democrat Primary election!

At 2/27/2007 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bustos enjoyed the backing of Lane Evans, Hare and Verschoore the latter two who both wrote letters to the paper endorsing her. This was a blow against Boland. Boland did all he could to stop this from catching on and now will face the rath of Lane Evans and his band of merry men and woman. Boland is learning the lesson of crossing Lane Evans against Phil Hare in the appointment process. It is a novel approach to have a woman run against Boland with a theme of cleaning up the coruption that Boland has brought to the Legislature with his scholarship scandle. Boland is now talking about a run against Phil Hare for congress since they are targeting him.

This should be a great election cycle next year.

At 2/27/2007 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Congressman Hare and Rep. Verschoore for pushing Sherry Bustos to a big victory.

Boland's aging ward organization was no match for Lane Evans' foot soldiers.

At 2/28/2007 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how/where/when did Boland do anything to stop "Bustos" from catching on? ? ?

At 3/01/2007 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boland was not in front or this he did however have his organization out on the streets for Sullivan.

At 3/02/2007 11:35 AM, Anonymous H. A. Pitt said...

Boland's aging ward organization was no match for Lane Evans' foot soldiers.

Sorry, but Boland just didn't get involved in this one. He's busy in Springfield.

Boland was not in front or this he did however have his organization out on the streets for Sullivan.

Sez who?

If Boland would have backed anyone, you could expect that Huntoon would have posted something over at MikeBoland.blogspot.com.

Huntoon's a "straight shooter" who wouldn't even help Paul Rumler, even though the kid was a former intern of his! Once his word was given to the Speaker, he kept it!

If there were people out working the streets, it wasn't from the organization the Hunton's have put together for Boland! I asked Huntoon if Boland had any "dogs in this race", and he said NO without doubt or hesitation, so I'd wager those are the real facts . . . you can take that to the bank!


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