**UPDATE** Last week Governor Rauner signed H.B. 5529 into law. I’m disappointed that the Governor didn’t veto this bill. These intra-fund transfers are little more than a shell game which allows school districts to over-levy in one fund knowing full well that the funds would be transferred to a fund that’s levy could not be increased.
H.B. 5529 is Exhibit A to the argument that we need a complete overhaul in the way we pay for education, putting the responsibility on the State for education funding, as prescribed in the Illinois Constitution.
On April 20, the McHenry County Blog posted a story about a bill (H.B. 5529) which, according to Tim Dwyer, an attorney who successfully brought a tax protest suit against Harrison School District in Wonder Lake:
“This bill allows school districts to transfer money via intra-fund transfers between the Educational Fund, the Operations and Maintenance Fund and the Transportation Fund. It can be found at Section 5/17-2A of the School Code.
Originally adopted in the 1960’s, the Intra-fund Transfer Section originally provided for a one-time intra-fund transfer for unforeseen, non-recurring expenses.
In 2001, it was amended to allow any transfer for any reason until 2003. Since that time (2003), it has been extended five times. H.B. 5529 seeks another three-year extension and passed through Committee unanimously (22-0, with 7 members absent).”
Further quoting Attorney Dwyer:
“(T)his bill allows (taxing bodies), and has allowed for 16 years…to circumvent the taxing requirements of the School Code and PTELL. One perfect example in McHenry County is Harrison School District 36 in Wonder Lake.
School District 36 had amassed 3.6 million dollars in its Transportation Fund when its actual Transportation costs were $337,000 annually.
Under normal circumstances, District 36 would have so much left in its Transportation budget that it could not, legally, adopt a levy for its Transportation Fund until such time as that fund was reduced.
This, of course, would have saved all taxpayers in District 36’s tax code 20% of future tax bills.
But under Section 5/17-2A, District 36 transferred its excess transportation funds, an amount in excess of three million dollars, to its Education and Operations and Maintenance Funds.
In its 2015 levy, District 36 levied for Transportation funds.”
The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House (108-4). The Blog posted the roll-call of the vote, and Jack Franks was one of the 4 dissenting votes. Good for him.
However, since this provision has been routinely extended for a number of years, I thought it would be instructive to see if Franks has been a consistent “No” vote on this obvious attempt to keep our real estate taxes from ever coming down. And what do you think I found?
As far back as votes are registered on the Legislature’s website, Jack Franks has voted for the extension. He voted for it in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2010. In 2013, he not only voted for it, he co-sponsored the bill!
I find it ironic that this is the same guy who couldn’t wait to post a press release about a bill he sponsored which he claims will stop PTELL increases. He actually had the gall to say: “[t]he system is broken. It means government doesn’t have to be efficient. When our citizens have less, our government gets more. And that’s not fair.”
What’s not fair is to have a representative who votes 5 times for an extension of a bill that allows taxing districts to rob Peter to pay Paul, allowing them to stockpile hordes of cash, allows it to be used for unintended purposes and then sponsors a “freeze” bill intended to both hide his past votes and to keep that system in place. That’s hypocrisy, pure and simple.