-By Warner Todd Huston
One of the election day success stories enjoyed by Americans for Prosperity, Illinois, occurred in nearby Lamont. A wasteful school referendum was defeated in Lamont and AFP was at the forefront of educating voters on the facts as they went to the polls.
Residents of Lamont had become tired of seeing their taxes go up every single year while the District constantly cried poor, so due to requests from residents, AFP – Illinois began an effort to understand exactly why the budget and the taxes for Lamont’s School District 113a have been constantly rising for every one of the last eleven years.
Upon investigation, AFP discovered that while revenues for the district have risen 50% over the last eleven years, the District’s spending has risen 77% during the same time. That wasn’t all AFP found. The investigation also revealed that teachers salaries had risen twice as fast as teachers in the rest of the state, administrator’s salaries grew at a rate 64% higher than the average Illinois administrator’s salary, and growth in salaries overall were higher than the growth rate of the per capita personal income in Illinois.
That was just salaries.
To help get this wild spending under control, AFP created an informative video to help voters lean more about the spending issues.
Naturally, forces that wanted to defeat AFP – Illinois’ efforts tried to claim that AFP was a group that came from outside the community. One reporter denigrated AFP as a “national special interest group” that had “many voters” asking “why” AFP was there.
Interestingly, that same reporter answered her own question (without acknowledging it) by pointing out that it was the Illinois Chapter that was getting involved. In fact, this is how Americans For Prosperity is supposed to work. Each state chapter gets involved with the issues that affect the citizens of that state.
As Illinois state director Joe Calomino told the press, “We have chapters in 30 states and more than a million activists, including about 50,000 in Illinois. We help educate and empower citizens to hold elected officials accountable for how they spend tax dollars.”
It appears that the residents of Lamont have come to appreciate the work that a local chapter of a “national special interest group” can do as the referendum to continue District 113a’s profligate spending was defeated on election day.
But even as the $20 million working cash bond referendum proposed by Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A was defeated, district Board President Lisa Wright did not seem to have learned the lesson that the voters sent her.
Instead of seeing that the district has been caught over spending, Wright told reporters after the election that the district would just have to start borrowing money. “We only have one option and that is short-term borrowing to pay our bills,” she said.
Apparently reorganizing the budget and cutting spending didn’t seem to occur to her.
AFP – Illinois was a leading factor in defeating this bad referendum, but more work lies ahead.