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Contact: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Amy Smolensky, 312-485-0053 June 1, 2010


Jeanne Atkinson, 312-523-5322

THE RAISE YOUR HAND COALITION REQUESTS MEETING WITH MAYOR


DALEY TO DISCUSS SCHOOL FUNDING

Chicago Public Schools Parents Group Says $275 Million in Property Taxes Targeted for
Education Funding is Being Diverted to TIF Districts

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Public Schools Parents Group Raise Your Hand Coalition,
representing parents from more than 250 schools throughout the city, today hand delivered a
letter to Mayor Richard M. Daley requesting a meeting to discuss funding for public school
education.

Among other things, the coalition highlighted the need to reform the Tax Increment Financing
system, calling it, "One of the most critical issues affecting school funding in Chicago." Raise
Your Hand also pointed to a 2009 analysis conducted by Progress Illinois showed that TIF
districts in Chicago are annually diverting more than $275 million in CPS property taxes away
from education, roughly the amount of the remaining FY 2011 deficit. "Chicago, CPS and the
more than 400,000 public school students and their families cannot afford this diversion."

With the Chicago Public Schools facing a projected budget deficit of between $232 - $325
million for the 2010-2011 school year, Raise Your Hand urged Mayor Daley to take the lead in
reforming the TIF system to halt this diversion of funds.

(letter attached)

###

Raise Your Hand is a growing coalition of Chicago public school parents and organizations
associated with or advocating for public education. Our members collaborate to influence state
and local officials to provide appropriate, equitable and sustained funding for public education.
The coalition now includes parents representing more than 250 schools.
June 1, 2010

Mayor Richard Daley


121 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Dear Mayor Daley:

The Steering Committee of the Raise Your Hand Coalition respectfully requests a meeting with
you to discuss funding for public education in Chicago for the coming year and beyond.

In March, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Ron Huberman identified a potential $1 billion
budget deficit for FY 2011. At the time, he called for action from parents and other stakeholders
to help persuade legislators to support CPS’ needs. Parents responded, and since that time, The
Raise Your Hand Coalition has worked tirelessly to emphatically communicate to state
lawmakers that level funding for education must be maintained. Through rallies, a Springfield
Lobby Day, meetings with legislators, letter-writing campaigns, and the more than 145,000
emails that have been sent to state elected officials through NoTo37.org, our voices have been
heard and the gap has been narrowed significantly.

The pension reform legislation reduced the deficit by $400 million, and the legislature's
expenditure plan covered at least $275 million more, and perhaps as much as $368 million. All
told, legislative action has reduced the projected deficit by between 68 and 77 percent.

The question now is, what will the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools do to cover the
rest of the budget gap? We’ve heard a lot of rhetoric aimed at Springfield, but unfortunately
there has not yet been much discussion of what can be done at the local level. With only one
month to go before the start of the new fiscal year, it’s time to get serious about exploring
potential options.

One of the most critical issues affecting school funding in Chicago is the system of Tax
Increment Financing (TIF) Districts. A 2009 analysis conducted by Progress Illinois showed that
TIF districts in Chicago are annually diverting more than $275 million in CPS property taxes
away from education, roughly the amount of the remaining FY 2011 deficit. Chicago, CPS and
the more than 400,000 public school students and their families cannot afford this diversion. We
urge you to take the lead in reforming the TIF system to halt this diversion of funds.

As you know, public education is one of the most important quality of life issues for families in
Chicago. We have all seen too many families leave Chicago for the suburbs solely because of
the lack of quality educational options in Chicago, and that trend will only increase if CPS has to
make further budget cuts. It is vital for our children, as well as for the future of Chicago, that we
all stand up together to fix this problem.

Raise Your Hand is a growing coalition of Chicago public school parents and organizations
associated with or advocating for public education. Our members collaborate to influence state
and local officials to provide appropriate, equitable and sustained funding for public education.
The coalition now includes parents representing more than 250 schools.

Please contact Amy Smolensky at 312-485-0053 with any questions or to schedule a meeting.

Sincerely,

Raise Your Hand Coalition Steering Committee

Jeanne Atkinson, Friends of Lincoln, Lincoln School


Jonathan Goldman, LSC Chair, Drummond Montessori
Wendy Katten, Friends of Burley, Burley School
Sonia Kwon, Friends of Coonley, Coonley School
Linda Lesondak, Friends of Coonley, LSC, Coonley School
Cliff Meece, LSC, Inter-American Magnet School
Patricia O'Keefe, Friends of Alcott, Alcott School
Christina Schneider, Friends of Franklin, Franklin Fine Arts School
Amy Smolensky, Friends of Burley, Burley School
Aaron Spevacek, Nettlehorst School
Jill Wohl, Inter-American Magnet School

Schools and organizations listed for identification purposes only.

cc: Ron Huberman

 
 
Progress Illinois, Thursday August 13th, 2009, Angela Caputo

Chicago TIF Districts Siphoned Off $552 Million In 2008

This week, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials announced an historic $475 million deficit
and broke the news to property owners that a tax hike is on the way. In responding to the news,
at least one City Council member, Ald. Tom Allen, lamented the drain on local taxing bodies
caused by Mayor Daley's tax increment financing (TIF) system. Here's his quote from
yesterday's Sun-Times article:

“People are despondent. They’re frustrated. They’re sitting on the sidelines waiting for this
elusive recovery to appear on the horizon,” Northwest Side Ald. Tom Allen (38th) said Tuesday.
“It’s a little less … politically radioactive when you’re talking about educating our kids. ... It’s
not like handing out money to developers. But, part of it goes back to all the money we have tied
up in [tax-increment- financing]. If that money wasn’t siphoned off to all the TIF districts, it
would be available to education.”

Well, that's refreshing to hear.

Allen's quote also begs the question: Exactly how much did the city's TIF districts "siphon off"
last year?

On behalf of SEIU's Illinois Council (which sponsors this website), Robert Ginsburg, Ph.D. and
Don Wiener, Ph.D. tallied up the 2008 annual reports for each district and found that the TIF
system absorbed $552 million in property tax revenue in 2008 (about the same amount as in
2007). Considering that 50 cents of every property tax dollar goes to schools, it's safe to say that
about $278 million of that revenue would have otherwise ended up in CPS' coffers.

The SEIU analysis also confirms that the TIF network continues to take in more than it can
spend, and is building a hefty surplus as a result. Indeed, at the end of 2008, the city's TIF funds
had a collective $1.3 billion reserved for "future redevelopment costs." The surplus remains that
large even after the city retired the Central Loop district (a.k.a. the "granddaddy" of all TIFs) and
went on a spending spree with the remaining balance.

So why isn't CPS chief Ron Huberman complaining about Daley's overgrown TIF system?
Because, like his counterparts on the parks, library and transit boards, city officials who serve at
the whim of the mayor have "come to recognize that central government is ... not going to
release those [operating] dollars," as TIF-reform activist John Paul Jones noted during a WBEZ
interview yesterday. Instead, Jones added, "they've become comfortable with just receiving
capital dollars on the TIF side." (According to Ginsburg and Wiener's analysis, CPS received a
$107 million infusion of TIF-backed "public improvements" last year -- still far short of the hole
that the special taxing districts have created.)

But is the TIF surplus really off-limits to operating expenses? In fact, the answer is no. With a
little creativity and courage on the part of Chicago aldermen -- as well as state legislators -- some
of that money could be freed up and the ongoing drag on local taxing bodies could be lessened.
Read our recent feature article to learn how.