Funding the schools: “fair distribution,” tax-increment financing (TIF), discussed by Harmon, Lilly, and Lightford

At CLAIM meeting, Oct. 9, 2013, Julian School:

Addressing “fair distribution” of funds, Sen. Lightford put “local control” of schools at the heart of the problem, promptly adding that she supports it. . . .  She also cited the city of Chicago’s “neglect” of the nearby Austin neighborhood, as if to highlight unfairness in distribution, but maybe not. She seemed to just throw it out there for listeners to chew on.

Rep. Lilly revisited her “corporate round table” idea, avowing that she is “behind efforts” to eliminate “tax breaks for corporate America,” on the one hand, and urging that “we need to get corporate America involved,” on the other. For the first time in the evening, she found her stump style, hands moving, eyes ablaze, a cheerleader in full blast.

As if to distract her from her corporate-America plans, Harmon asked if she was “referring to TIF” (tax-increment financing), adding a prompter, “Right?” as if she had forgotten her lines. TIF cash, he added, must be used “for its intended purposes,” that is, for economic development. In distressed areas, he might have added.

“TIFs are good,” Lightford said, “but . . .  a TIF should not take too much money from schools.” Not too much, just enough.

Harmon responded reasonably enough that TIF renewals — continued diverting of money from schools and elsewhere for business expansion — are regularly approved by all involved taxing bodies, including school districts. Who presumably see advantages in this, he might have added.

From Illinois Blues: How the Ruling Party Talks to Voters —  available in paperbackepub and Amazon Kindle formats.

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