Friday, January 30, 2009

Pat Quinn on Schools And Taxes

Posted By on 01.30.09 at 12:35 PM

After Pat Quinn was sworn in as governor I recalled an interesting idea he floated in 2003 to address the state's education funding woes. He called it the "Robin Hood solution."

Quinn wanted to double the state income tax on Illinois's wealthiest residents and use the money to provide more money for education while weaning the schools of their dependence on property taxes.

I thought it was a pretty good idea, but it went nowhere. Now it's six years later and we're in much the same predicament -- chronically short on money for education and overextended on property taxes.

Of all the disappointments Rod Blagojevich served up in his time in office, I think his greatest failure is that he never consistently applied his abundant charisma, chutzpa, and roguish charm to any goal greater than raising campaign money, tormenting his tormentors, or, recently, entertaining the nation. Unfortunately he made no serious, sustained effort to find a more sensible way to pay for public education.

Now it's Quinn's problem, and good luck to him, especially if he tries to dust off this old idea. Already the state's business lobby and Republicans are gearing up to fight him if he tries to raise taxes.

They'll probably call him a tax-and-spend liberal. And as Dawn Clark Netsch can tell you: In Illinois politics it's safe to be anything -- even a hypocrite -- but a tax-and-spend liberal. 

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