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Waiting on the state

Every year, Illinois taxpayers send money to Washington and Springfield with the expectation that a fair share will be returned to their community to pay for services such as education. But what happens when government doesn’t keep its end of the bargain? The taxpayers of the Triad School District will soon find out.

Illinois is paying schools just 89 percent of what is owed, which for Triad has meant $3.1 million less to spend on education in the last four years. And so the district will ask voters in April to approve a whopper of a property tax increase: a 27.2 percent increase, from $1.84 per $100 equalized assessed value to $2.35 per $100. Voters will have to choose whether to dig deeper in their pockets, or tell the district to cut spending and live within its means. Continuing to deficit spend should not be an option.

It’s not fair that the state has caused this problem, and now local taxpayers are expected to solve it. But that’s the unfortunate reality in a state that owes more than $100 billion on pensions for public employees. As Jeff Hewitt, the school board vice president, points out, “If we wait on the state, we’ve got a long wait.”