-By Warner Todd Huston
Schools that want tax dollars to fund major new building or refurbishing projects are supposed to go before the voters, hat in hand, to ask for a tax increase. A referendum then goes on a ballot for tax payers to approve or deny. This prevents abuse of tax money and is how the system is supposed to work. But an investigation finds that millions of dollars in building funds have been raised through questionable bonds issued by schools without getting legal approval from the taxpayers.
Schools have been caught floating bonds to fund their unapproved building projects despite that the courts have ordered them to stop this shady practice. And now, instead of punishing these lawbreakers, state legislators plan to just change the rules to make this questionable wild spending legal in a grandfathered law to be considered in the state senate perhaps as early as this week.
Worse than that, the legislation was written by private companies that specialize in assisting schools to rape the taxpayers by helping them figure ways around the law. This bill wasn’t even written by our elected officials but by special interests that make their living skimming tax money from schools.
One school wasted these pilfered funds for as idiotic a thing as adding astroturf to their football field. In these tough times sports programs should be looked at for cutting, not coddling, yet our schools are wasting millions on unapproved projects for sports programs.
But it isn’t just sports being funded by this illicit bonds practice. All sorts of projects are being funded in such a way. Proponents of the money-laundering scheme say that the schools have been forced to these desperate moves because the state has been remiss in paying budgeting needs.
Illinois is behind by about $1.25 billion in payments to school districts and is facing a $1.3 billion proposed budget for 2011.
But, the real problem here is that schools are endeavoring to destroy voter’s rights to control wild spending by its local schools by funding through back door measures unnecessary projects without voter’s approval. Schools are forcing taxpayers to fund projects that were never authorized.
In a state where teachers and administrators make more money in salary, benefits and retirement than those of nearly any other state, in a state where tax payers pay some of the highest taxes in the country, here we have these school districts acting like fatcat politicians, stealing the taxpayer’s money, and violating their rights as voters to even try and control spending.
I urge each of you to call your state senators and tell them to vote “no” on HB6041, this backdoor school spending measure. You can see the bill at the Illinois General Assembly’s site.