Policy Documents

No. 72 The Heartland Report on School Finance Reform for Illinois: Part 1

Joseph Bast, Herbert Walbert and Robert Genetski –
May 1, 1996

In his January 1996 State of the State address, Governor Jim Edgar told legislators: "We rely too heavily on property taxes to fund education in Illinois. It is time to squarely address these issues. And I am optimistic you and I can do so during this legislative session."

One month later, the Governor's Commission on Education Funding released its report calling for, among other things: Increasing the state's share of school funding to 50 percent of a "foundation" level of approximately $4,225 per pupil; reducing the range of variation in funding among school districts; granting $1.5 billion in local property tax relief; and placing a constitutional amendment on the November 1996 ballot calling on lawmakers to implement these policies.

Our reply to the Commission tracks the organization of its own report. Our goal was to produce a comprehensive report on school finance in Illinois that can serve as a reference for future debate and policy decisions. A second report by the same authors, also published by The Heartland Institute, advances an alternative reform plan to put Illinois on a course to having a world-class school system. We hope to work with members of the Commission and many other individuals on this urgent task.