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Bernard Schoenburg

School funding: Kennedy doesn't abide by his ad

Property taxes a big issue for candidate

Property taxes a big issue for candidate

A television ad for Democratic governor candidate Chris Kennedy makes a pretty strong statement about school funding — but even Kennedy doesn't preach what he seems to say in the ad.

"We have to make sure that education is paid for at the state level, and not through local property taxes," Kennedy says in the 30-second spot.

The state now pays only about a quarter of K-12 school costs in Illinois, and most of the rest — and by far the majority — is paid for by local property taxes.

So is Kennedy advocating an end to property-tax funding for schools?

"No," he told the editorial board of The State Journal-Register last week. "I don't think we could go that far. I don't know of a state where there's no reliance on local property taxes. And I'm a big believer in allowing local communities to do what they'd like. And if you're a local community and you'd like to put on a special tax so your school has certain resources, so be it."

I asked his campaign spokeswoman, Rebecca Evans, about what seemed like the no-property-taxes statement.

"He has said consistently we can't rely on local property taxes to fund education," Evans said. "The bulk of funding needs to come from the state."

Kennedy has been very critical of the property-tax assessment system, including his call for Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios to resign.

The Kennedy ad includes pictures of the candidate's late father, Robert F. Kennedy, and uncle, President John F. Kennedy.

"I come from a family that has embraced the notion that we're all in this together," he says.

He also says what while he sees the "failing of the government" in Illinois, he believes in "building things up, not in tearing them down."

"I believe that compromise is not surrender," he also says. "I know this is doable. I know we can do it. Let's go where we need to go."

Cardinal Cupick avoids conflict

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, who was in Springfield on Wednesday to push for gun control legislation, avoided injecting himself into the years-long controversy in which U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin has been banned from Holy Communion in his home church.

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Springfield Roman Catholic diocese recently reaffirmed a 2004 decision by then-Monsignor Kevin Vann — now a bishop in California — that he would not give Holy Communion to Durbin, of Springfield, in the capital city because of the senator's stand that abortion should be legal.

Paprocki's recent action, in the form of a statement issued Feb. 13, came after Durbin voted against a Senate bill that would have prohibited abortions starting at 20 weeks. Supporters mustered only 51 of 60 votes needed to move the bill forward in the Senate.

"I leave it to each bishop who has ... an obligation to be in dialogue with his elected officials on this matter, in terms of their own practice of the Catholic faith," Cupich said.

"I was not a part of the discussion between the bishop and Senator Durbin on that, so I can't comment on that. But I do respect any bishop who needs to take action within their own diocese, and ... I also believe that that conversation should remain between those two."

Durbin has said in the past he stopped going to church in Springfield to avoid incidents resulting from people being upset with his stand on abortion — which changed from anti-abortion to abortion rights, he has said, in the late 1980s after he met with victims of rape and incest. He has said he had a condominium in Chicago, and had attended church and taken communion there.

Asked about Durbin going to church in Chicago, Cupich on Wednesday also deferred to Paprocki.

"He's his bishop on that issue," Cupich said.

Marlene Mulford, spokeswoman for the Springfield diocese, said Paprocki and Durbin have not had a recent conversation on the issue.