Education Funding Reform In Illinois

Published January 1, 2007

In Illinois, local public schools are funded primarily through local property taxes. This has led to what some policymakers see as unfair funding differences, as school districts with larger property tax bases are able to spend more on their public schools than can school districts with smaller property tax bases.

Proponents of a “tax swap” currently under consideration in Springfield and embodied in S.B. 750, which would increase the state’s share of education financing through increased sales and income taxes, say it will make school funding more equitable and ease the burden of property taxes on homeowners.

Others, however, point out that increasing the state’s share of school funding is not likely to improve student achievement. Moreover, some civic leaders have expressed concern that increasing sales and income taxes will discourage new businesses from locating in Illinois and encourage existing employers to relocate out of state. Finally, opponents say any property tax relief that might come from a tax swap will be only temporary, as S.B. 750 does not prevent school boards and municipalities from increasing property taxes in the future.

This Research & Commentary collects several documents addressing the issue, offering a representative sample of materials available from The Heartland Institute on issues related to education reform and school finance.