Oak Park D97 Committee Shuns Local Businesses

Local pro-tax hike group goes outside Illinois to purchase cheapest and tax-free items to support said tax hike.

We know where the Committee to Support Oak Park Schools stands on education…on top of a large pile of cash. The local organization behind the successful passage of both D97 referenda that will add $74 per $1000 in property taxes (most OP homes tax between $10-15,000) to every homeowners’ property tax bill was quite adamant how we should all support our schools and art and music programs with open arms, minds, and wallets. We were thoroughly warned of plummeting property values if we didn’t vote “Yes Yes” to raise both operating expenses and issue bonds. But when it came to sourcing the very items that promoted their progressive message, did the Committee support Oak Park businesses?

According to their report filed with Illinois State Board of Elections, the response you hear echoing in the Eisenhower Canyon is a resounding NO. While the Committee spent nearly $15,000 promoting their agenda, a large portion of their “Yes Yes” swag came from out-of-state vendors:

1) $5,016 for signs from New Hampshire. Those who denounce Illinois’ flat state income tax as “regressive” might be interested to know that New Hampshire doesn’t even have a state income tax*. Furthermore, Big Daddy’s Signs doesn’t charge sales tax.

2) $1,373 for from printing services from Queens, New York. Perhaps a referral from Run DMC?

3) $1,386 for promotional items from Ohio (another purchase exempt from sales tax) and Texas (a right to work state with no state income tax).

I find it hard to believe these items could not have been sourced within Illinois. Signs Express is 3 blocks away from Irving Elementary. Logan Square’s Busy Beaver Button Company is 4 miles away from Hatch Elementary. Considering all the rhetoric the pro-referenda crowd spread how Illinois is America’s deadbeat dad of school funding, it seems a bit callous to purposely eschew the very local businesses that employ the working families that provide the tax revenues that fund our schools. How delightfully ironic that the Committee basically took the “school voucher” approach to advocate for more education funding.

When the next inevitable school funding shortfall comes up again at ReferendaFest 2021, instead of marching the kids around Scoville Park, let’s lead them towards the Harrison Arts District and local music shops. Perhaps they deserve our arts and music funding more than D97. At least we’ll be shopping local.

* New Hampshire only taxes dividend income. 

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