Mayor Defends CPS Property Tax Hike In State Education Funding Plan

CHICAGO (CBS) — The education funding plan approved by the Illinois General Assembly this week likely means another property tax hike for the Chicago Public Schools, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel believes Chicago residents will understand.

The funding deal for public schools in Illinois will mean more state funding for CPS and for teachers’ pensions, but it also means the Chicago Board of Education can raise property taxes further, without the approval of the Chicago City Council.

Emanuel said he warned something like this would happen.

“I’ve never, ever said that we were not going to also come up with the resources to make sure our schools were well-funded, and we were investing in them; and we never wanted to be in a situation where it was a choice between making continued investment in our children’s future, or paying our teachers’ pensions,” he said.

House Democrats estimate CPS could levy an additional $120 million in property taxes. Cook County Clerk David Orr estimated it would be more.

Some aldermen fear, although they won’t vote on the property tax hike allowed by the state education funding plan, voters will still blame them for it.

The mayor said he’s long warned CPS needs more revenue. He also noted Chicago taxpayers have been footing the bill for teacher pensions across the state for years, without getting any state funding for its own teachers’ pensions. Emanuel said the education funding plan changes that.

“It will fundamentally create parity and equity to taxpayers, students, and teachers; and that’s the first point. Second is the formula,” he said.

The plan would distribute more money to all schools in Illinois, and is meant to boost funding to the state’s poorest districts.

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