It has been months since the idea of an Illinois millionaires tax seemed to be off the table in the General Assembly, but House Speaker Michael Madigan has revived talks of the surtax again. Now many Illinois teachers' unions and education organizations are coming out in favor of the added 3-percent income tax. But at least one member of Madigan's supermajority Democratic Party isn't on board. Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek has more:
Madigan, union officials and two prominent school advocacy groups issued statements supporting the millionaires' tax push. They said it was part of a solution to the state's severe fiscal crisis, even though it would require a supermajority vote among lawmakers and then would have to go to voters, which could not happen now until 2016. Therefore, even if approved, it wouldn't help solve the immediate $6 billion budget hole Gov. Bruce Rauner, Madigan and lawmakers face.
"With the rollback of the temporary income tax increase on January 1, we are facing new budget-making obstacles," Madigan said in a rare statement released by his office. "According to the bipartisan Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, the rollback is expected to result in a loss of nearly $5 billion in state revenue each year. With lower revenues, many state services will be in very precarious financial positions.
"Schools in Illinois need greater financial support to ensure our children can compete in a global economy," he continued. "This is why I am renewing my call for a constitutional amendment requiring a 3 percent surcharge on income over $1 million, with the extra revenue devoted to schools across the state on a per-pupil basis. This change, filed as House Joint Resolution Constitutional Amendment 26, would result in about $1 billion in additional funding for Illinois students, or about $530 in additional funding per student, per year."
Support for the amendment, not surprisingly, came from Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna, Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery and Large Unit District Association Executive Director Diane Rutledge. They were joined in supporting a resolution calling for an amendment by Stand for Children and Advance Illinois, two education advocacy groups.
"While not a complete solution to our education funding concerns, this proposal can start to move our students and schools toward and adequate base level of funding," said Advance Illinois Executive Director Robin Steans. "Money alone will not improve education or close achievement gaps, however, money matters. ... A more equitable funding formula, in tandem with the proposal in HJRCA 26 for increased revenue, would begin to open the doors of opportunity for all Illinois students."
"We commend this proposal's focus on increasing investment in education," said Jessica Handy of Stand for Children Illinois. "Schools have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the last five years, which hurts the education that our children receive and the professionals in the classroom."
(Read the rest of Doubek's explanation of Madigan's support for a millionaires tax at Reboot Illinois.)
Speaking of millions of dollars, exactly how much money do Illinois colleges rake in each year? We took a look at which colleges made the most in private donations in 2014 in Illinois, broken down along the top 10 private schools and top 10 public schools. The answers might surprise you.