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Proviso Probe

Sunday, September 24, 2006

N06, Greens get behind tax swap idea big time

The Illinois Green Party held a function in Chicago this weekend. I attended and talked to some of the candidates.

The Greens are making HB 750 central to the campaigns for governor and the legislature.

The concept of HB 750 is to increase income taxes while reducing property taxes to fund schools more equally. The liberal critique of schools is that they would perform better if they had more resources. And inequities in school funding further exacerbate inequities in society.

I'm not particularly persuaded the liberal critique of schools is the most meaningful model for understanding the problems facing schools.

However, as a matter of politics the Greens are probably smart to support HB 750. Since Speaker Michael Madigan supports the bill (see the Illinois General Assembly website) supporters of HB 750 see Governor Rod Blagojevich as the chief impediment.

(BTW, local supporters include Sen. Kimberly Lightford, Rep. Karen Yarbrough, Rep. Calvin Giles and Rep. Deborah Graham.)

Teachers unions and other constituencies that would benefit from increasing the total money available for schools support HB 750. So, it's probably more than a tax swap, it's a tax increase.

So, the Green candidate for governor, Rich Whitney, can target some Dem constituencies.

The Greens would love to win the governor's race, but the more realistic goal is for the party to get 5%. If the Greens get 5% of the vote in the governor's race this will qualify the party for "major party" status in Illinois. This will reduce the number of signatures the party needs to get on the ballot which will allow the party to field more candidates.

So targeting some big Dems constituencies is a solid strategy for breaking 5%.

The short version of my critique of HB 750 is that increasing money by itself won't improve education. Equality isn't what people want out of education. And I'm skeptical that Illinois voters want their taxes raised.

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