Manar SB1880 Senate FloorrSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Andy Manar (D–Bunker Hill) passed a measure in the Senate Thursday that would award a tax-equivalent grant to the Springfield School District to make up for lost property tax dollars from state government-owned properties.

“Springfield is unique because of the large number of government-owned properties scattered throughout the city,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat whose district includes much of Springfield School District 186. “This unique situation required a unique solution.”

Government-owned properties such as the Capitol, Supreme Court building and the State Library are exempt from property taxes, which impacts the general state aid formula used to determine how much money Springfield schools receive from the overall education funding pot. So the decreased property taxes means Springfield receives less money from the general state aid formula.

Manar’s legislation would calculate the value of those buildings by multiplying the average value per taxable acre of the district by the total number of acres owned by the state.

“This is the tip of the iceberg of the desperate need to reform how our schools are funded,” Manar said. “I plan to hear Senate Joint Resolution 32 next week in the Senate Education Committee, which calls for a comprehensive review of education funding in the state.”

Manar’s measure, SJR 32, begins the reform process by creating the General Assembly’s Advisory Committee on Education Funding. The committee's job will be to conduct a comprehensive review of the current K-12 education funding system in Illinois and make recommendations for a more fair and adequate funding distribution method by Feb. 1, 2014. No such review of education funding has been conducted in more than 10 years.

“We should be doing more to ensure that every child in Illinois has equal access to a quality public education,” said Manar. “A zip code should not determine how much is spent on a child’s education.”

Manar launched an online petition where members of the community can add their names to a growing list of parents, teachers and concerned citizens calling for education funding reform in Illinois. The petition can be signed by visiting www.SenatorAndyManar.com/FundingReform

“By far, one of the biggest concerns I hear about from parents in central Illinois is concern over how we’re funding—or not funding—their children’s schools,” said Manar. “As a parent of three children in a small public school, I share that concern. It’s time we take a serious look at our current system and look for ways to improve.”

Manar hopes a strong show of support through the online petition will lead to the speedy passage of SJR 32.
 
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Senate Bill 1880:
SB 1880 provides for tax equivalent grants each year to Springfield School District 186 beginning in FY 2014. The grants would equal 0.5% of the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of all land in the district owned by the State.

Background: The State does not pay property taxes on property it owns in Springfield, which has an effect on the amount of General State Aid distributed to Springfield School District 186.
Current law states that a school district is entitled to a tax equivalency grant if the State owns 45% or more of the total land area of the district. This only applies to Chaney-Monge School District 88 in Crest Hill, where Stateville Correctional Center is located. The district receives a grant of $222.6 thousand each year.

SB 1880 is similar to legislation (HB 4265) introduced by Representative Raymond Poe during the 93rd General Assembly. The bill passed the House but was not heard in committee in the Senate. A fiscal note was filed on the bill that estimated an impact of between $102.8 thousand and $165.9 thousand.

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