This morning McHenry County Blog revealed the details of the Sears bailout bill.
Allison Strupeck, District 300’s Spokesperson, reacted with the following:
To be very clear, the new legislation that Senators Dan Kotowski (the chief sponsor of the original Senate Bill 540) and Althoff recently mentioned to the press and their colleagues has never been shared with us.
We are continuing to be shut out of the negotiations, as we have for the last several months.
These are the same kind of back-door, sweetheart deals that have characterized this legislation for the last nine months and have given Illinois a bad political name for years.
Unfortunately, we still have no idea if Kotowski’s new plan is indeed a fair compromise, and compromise is truly what is needed here.
After months of Superintendent Michael Bregy asking to be legitimately included in negotiations that will affect tens of thousands of students and taxpayers for the next 15 years, recently he was finally allowed to meet for the first time with bill sponsor Senator Kotowski and Sears executives.
Superintendent Bregy went into this last-minute meeting on the eve of the veto session hoping for good faith bargaining.
However, at the meeting he was repeatedly asked how much in SCHOOL property taxes we would be willing to give up.
D300 is still apparently the only party being asked to compromise in these so-called “negotiations.”
Since that meeting, there has literally been no follow-up by Kotowski with D300, and no drafts of the new legislation have been shared with us.
Our understanding is that the new legislation is being authored by the Hoffman Estates Village Manager, Mr. Jim Norris, in collaboration with Kotowksi (who is running for re-election and whose district includes the EDA) and State Representative Fred Crespo (a former Hoffman Estates Village Board Member).
It is certainly not coincidental that the backers of this legislation (many of whom have already gotten campaign donations from Sears) are waiting until the very last minute to file their new legislation before the veto session resumes on Tuesday, November 8.
They obviously want to give D300, the public, the press, and lawmakers as little time as possible to scrutinize the new legislation before they try to rush it through for a final vote.
This is absolutely unacceptable and borderline corrupt.
We have even heard that Kotowski may try to sneak this new legislation through as a trailer bill to prevent the House of Representatives from being able to weigh in on the new plan.
If it’s a good and fair plan, shouldn’t it be able to withstand public and press scrutiny?
The EDA generates $17 million a year in D300 SCHOOL property taxes, only $2.9 million of which ever makes it into schools.
We are subsidizing the education of Sears’ employees children.
So another $2.9 million a year in SCHOOL property taxes doesn’t even cover our costs and or help to bring our school system on par with the resources available to Hoffman Estates schools, which are not stripped of school property taxes from the EDA like D300 schools.
The original Senate Bill 540 Amendment 3 – as well as the new legislation that has been vaguely alluded to by Kotowski, Althoff, and others – are blatantly anti-education.
We understand that Hoffman Estates doesn’t give a flip about our 21,000 students.
But at the very least, Sears has an ethical obligation to ensure that as a corporation it does not short-change the educational opportunities of its employees’ children in our school system.
The key here is to provide financial incentives to Sears that don’t heavily rely on school property taxes.
There is a win-win to be had, if lawmakers and Sears choose to have it.
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Photos provided by District 300.