11062017RT0026bRSSPRINGFIELD — Illinois taxpayers may soon have more transparency when it comes to their property taxes thanks to a measure passed by State Senator Jennifer Bertino Tarrant (D-Shorewood), Chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Bertino-Tarrant passed Senate Bill 3190 to require school districts to issue quarterly reports on the available cash on hand, funds in reserves and investments.

Senate Bill 3190 passed the Senate with bipartisan support on Wednesday and now heads to the House for consideration.

“School districts should not levy property taxes beyond their needs,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “This new measure will require our schools to be transparent with their finances which will give taxpayers and the general assembly a real picture of the economic health of our schools.”

In 2017, the Daily Herald reported an analysis of financial records of 93 suburban school districts that showed 18 school districts had enough in reserve to cover more than a year of operating expenses.

The state board recommends a minimum of 25 percent of annual operating costs be held in reserve, but there is not a limit to the amount. All but eight of the 93 school districts had at least the minimum 25 percent, while more than two-thirds had 50 percent or more.

Last year, Bertino-Tarrant joined the General Assembly in passing monumental school funding reform which would reduce public schools’ reliance on local property tax dollars.

The new school funding mechanism outlined in Senate Bill 1947 established an evidence-based funding formula to dispense state dollars to public schools. The formula institutes a base funding minimum that ensures school districts do not lose state dollars year after year.

Any additional funding the General Assembly appropriates is distributed through a tier-based system that prioritizes the state’s poorest and most disadvantaged schools. The funding plan outlined in the new law includes a minimum funding level of $350 million in additional funding each year, with the goal of meeting the total statewide adequacy target over a period of time.

“As the new funding formula kicks in, we need to work toward ensuring property tax relief for families across Illinois,” Bertino-Tarrant said. “Funding schools the right way should mean that folks see property tax bill savings.”

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