Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Thinking About Schools
Does Springfield really put education first? Can property taxes continue to rise while underlying property values continue to decline? Can the FEDs and the State continue to place special demands on the districts without providing the funding?
I’ve been thinking about schools. Actually I’ve been thinking about the economy, my state, baiting and switching, “significant,” politics, class sizes, four days, and education. Last week schools in Illinois took over the headlines and lead-ins to the nightly news TV programming. Illinois is not alone in this situation, but national coverage is on the wider and broader issues/difficulties. This state of affairs is considered local, and is not reported nationally. The situation has been brewing for a long time in the Prairie State (and elsewhere); but it is the economic downturn, declining state income tax revenues, and diminished “rake” the State makes from legalized gambling which have accelerated the mess.
You see funding for education has pretty much been dumped in the laps of the local real estate tax payers. Traditionally 73% to 75 % of the total cost of my property taxes goes to the local grade school, the local grade school’s pensions, the local high school, the local high school’s pensions, the local community college, and a rollover of the college’s bond issue. This breakdown applies to virtually every property owner statewide. Education has gotten a free ride until now. Yes, you heard me... Many school districts have even accumulated a SURPLUS, or a “SURPLUS RESERVE,” by dinging the locals for more money than they actually needed (year after year) by raising the assessment rates and/or the property assessment base by a maximum allowable amount each year. This by the way is not illegal.
I should state how as long as the increase is below a “certain” percentage, a referendum for this annual “increase” is NOT required. How conveeenient....! Now that the hand writing is on the wall financially, such school districts do not want to wipe out these accumulated reserves, knowing full well that the money shortfalls will continue for years. To balance their coming budgets, or to at least decrease the coming deficits; we saw the lay off of teachers, teachers helpers, and even administrative personnel for the school year beginning in fall. Statewide over 20,000 will lose their jobs in the education sector.
State revenues raked in from racing, casinos, the lotto, the lottery, and now poker machines are supposed to go to education. This was “marketed” to the public by the “legislative slick willies of Springfield because these sin taxes “were for the children.” Give me a break... this was nothing but a colossal bait and switch. It’s true that “ALL” state gambling proceeds go to education, but every dollar so generated means that one less dollar needs to be transferred from the General Revenue Fund to the Common School Fund. Looking at only a couple of journal entries shows that it is the General Revenue Fund which truly benefits. The hundreds of MILLIONS raised by these “sin taxes” have not provided the schools with ONE additional buck of funding since they went on the books. We are also now learning that the teacher pensions’ collections are following the plight/ blight of the Social Security System. Collections are growing, but so are future funding deficiencies. We pay more: yet we get less.
By law... State Government is to provide a “SIGNIFICANT” portion of the funding needs for public education. This does NOT mean 51%, 40%, or even 32% in the current state of affaires. It is true that funding for education is the single largest state expenditure; so that when the revenues decline, education takes a hit by the cuts. Politics is about finger pointing, skirting the real problems, and passing the buck (but not to education). Like in virtually all other spending areas, the state is presently not meeting its promised obligations on what they said they would pay. Just over 200 schools districts are in deficit situations this current school year alone solely because the state has closed its checkbook.
To “remedy” (as in defer problems forward) classes will be consolidated raising class sizes to 19 to 22 “instructional units” (all kids are not counted equally), teachers’ helpers will be curtailed, and titles of administrative personnel (I don’t have a clue what they do) will be furloughed. God forbid that program cuts (don’t you dare touch football or basketball) and a four day school week are now on the table. I should point out that my class in grade school at 32 to 36 students is still the largest one to ever go through our system. Each year we had one teacher, no teacher’s helpers, no program planners, no psychologists, no information technology specialists, and classes were taught in one language --- ENGLISH. No child was ever left behind! And... I got a very good education. Ahem!!!
Does Springfield really put education (elementary, secondary, and university) first? Can property taxes continue to rise while underlying property values continue to decline? Can the FEDs and the State continue to place special demands on the districts without providing the funding (more unfunded mandates)? Will any true remedial action be taken? More same old, same old? Remember... “it’s for the children.”
I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.
Read more: Click on our map to check taxes in your state
Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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This story was published on March 29, 2010.