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Vallas claims Rauner's plan includes education cuts

Published: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 9:18 p.m. CST

JOLIET – Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Paul Vallas said Bruce Rauner’s tax plan will cut more than $12 million from Grundy County schools and $170 million from Will County schools.

“This is by far the most important issue,” Vallas said.

Vallas came Thursday to Joliet and released his analysis on the Republican gubernatorial candidate’s tax plan, which calls for the state tax rate to be sunset and lowered to 3 percent. Gov. Pat Quinn, his Democratic opponent, wants to stay the current tax rate at 5 percent. The legislation regarding the hike, when approved a few years ago, intended the increase to be temporary.

Vallas said the tax cut would create an $8 billion hole in the state’s discretionary fund, of which half usually goes to education.

He listed what the impact could be to every school district in the state. Minooka Community Consolidated School District 201, for instance, would lose $4.2 million, according to Vallas.

But the stakes are higher in Will County, where the district with the largest loss would be Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202. The district would stand to lose $53 million.

Plainfield 202 Director of Community Relations Tom Hernandez said district officials haven’t confirmed if that figure was accurate, but he said any reduction in revenue of a large magnitude would hit very hard.

“It took us four years to cut $42 million between 2009-13,” Hernandez said, adding that it included a careful reduction in staff of 345 positions in the district. “To take a $50 million hit would be devastating.”

Some other school districts that would lose money in Grundy County include Morris School District 54 at $1.6 million and Morris Community High School District at $1 million.

But Vallas said the hardest hit under Rauner’s tax plan could be the smaller districts, like Braceville School District 75, which he said would lose $580,853 under the new plan.

“Those are the districts that are really going to feel the pinch,” he said.

But a response from the Rauner campaign contends that Vallas’ numbers are made up, and that Quinn has a track record of raising taxes and cutting education funding.

“Unlike Pat Quinn, whose education cuts led to teacher layoffs and larger class sizes, Bruce will make education a top priority and fully fund our schools,” the emailed response read, adding that the jobs and growth plan will help Illinois recover. “The answer to our long-term problems is to expand Illinois’ economy and invest in the future.”

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