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Letters to the Editor

State of Illinois can't be counted on to help schools

Dear Editor,

Oregon Republican Reporter 5/2/2013: Forrestville Valley Superintendent Lowell Taylor: "Everywhere in rural north-western Illinois, schools are reeling from the one-two-three punches of [1] abandoned State of Illinois support, [2] decreased real estate taxes and [3] decreasing enrollments."

What is historical development of this situation?

1. Financial condition of State of Illinois is among worst of states.  New York Times:  "For years, Illinois has racked up billions in public debt to plug budget holes, pay overdue bills, and put money into its mismanaged pension funds.  

And for the people who live there, this has resulted in decrepit commuter trains and buses, thousands of unsound bridges, 200 hazardous dams and one of the most inequitable public school systems in America. ... Illinois has the lowest credit rating of the 50 states and has America’s second-biggest public debt per capita, ... including state and local borrowing."  

So, in our quest to better our local economic situation, help for State of Illinois will be unlikely.

2. Real estate values in dollars adjusted for inflation peaked about 7 years ago.  Although recently values are experiencing some increase, not for many years, if ever, will real-estate values again reach level of 2005-2006.  

So, if real-estate tax revenue were to maintain previous peak, tax rates would need to be increased (not popular with voters).

3. With introduction of machines to agricultural work, beginning before use of John Deer's plow (1837) and Cyrus McCormick's reaper (1847), fraction of U.S. population living on farms has undergone long decline.6   

Currently in U.S. agricultural jobs compose about 1 percent of employment.4  Employment in agriculture is expected to continue to decrease (slightly).5

With decrease of agricultural employment has come decrease in rural young people (a trend that is not concluded), which brings further rural population decrease.

Rockford's manufacturing, which provided regional economic vitality, has in large part moved else-where.    Recent unemployment data: U.S. average: 7.9 percent1,  Illinois: 8.8 percent1,  Rockford metropolitan area: 10.6percent1, Ogle County 10.8percent2.  So, our community is employment challenged.

To deal with these economic problems, hoping for good news will not effect it, nor will waiting for return of better conditions such as existed in past.  

Instead, we need to study outside our community to understand global business and demographic interactions, then turn back to our local community to apply what we learn to produce best results possible.


1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Oct. 2012: (

2 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics , 2012 (

3 New York Times, Business Day: "Illinois Debt Takes Toll, Study Finds", By Mary Williams Walsh, published: October 24, 2012

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not maintain this data; figure I give here is inferred from other data given by B.L.S.)

5 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January,2012 ( )  "One major group—farming, forestry, and fishing occupations—is projected to continue its long-term decline, with a projected 2.0-percent employment decrease."

6 Wikipedia

Henry Tideman


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