Debate continues over IL school funding formula bill

Governor Rauner to Talk Education Funding in Rockford Monday
Illinois finally has budget in place, but school funding for 2017-18 still uncertain
Author

19 July, 2017

Gov. Bruce Rauner pledged Monday to change the language of a funding bill crucial to schools across IL opening this fall, the latest development in an ongoing battle about how to pay for the state's public education.

Referring to the longtime Democratic Speaker of the House as "ruthless", "cold-blooded" and a "tyrant", Rauner blamed Madigan for the concerns of school officials across the state about whether IL would come through on its funding promise.

Any protracted fight in Springfield over school funding would be devastating for local school districts, as the State Board of Education has said a funding plan must be approved by August 3 for normal payments to be sent to districts by the start of the fall semester. "Unfortunately, Democrats want to turn this historic opportunity into a bailout for the CPS pension system", Rauner said. Jacksonville School District 117, for example, would receive $326,553 under the provisions of Senate Bill 1 but $766,338 under the administration's plan, according to figures provided by the governor's office.

No matter what, something must be done to move IL to an evidence-based model of funding like the intent of SB 1, otherwise no state aid will be disbursed to schools - rendering many unable to open in the fall. The bill passed both the Senate and House with bipartisan support. He also the stall tactic is meant to protect the governor from his own "poor judgement".

"The governor has never contacted me directly about his problems with Senate Bill 1".

Instead, Rauner held a press conference today to "demand, not request, but demand" the bill be sent to his desk immediately so that he can change it as he sees fit.

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A spokesman for Cullerton said Monday that discussions are "ongoing" about when to send Rauner the bill.

Meanwhile, the Illinois Republican Party is highlighting the larger funding gains districts would receive under the GOP plan that. "The point of this school reform bill is to help low-income students across the state, including those in Chicago, get the education they deserve - not to bail out CPS's mismanaged teacher pension system".

The recently approved $36 billion state budget included an additional $350 million for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms. CPS would get about $71 million of that money.

Rauner and the Democrats agree on the legislative goal of providing more state aid to the neediest districts and less to the more affluent districts.

The senator said Republican governors who understand the harm the GOP health care plan could do could make a difference on Capitol Hill, where the Senate plan has stalled again with four Senators opposing the latest revisions. CPS would lose $203 million in special grant money but gain $165 million in general state aid, for a net loss of $38 million.

At issue is the way the bill factors CPS' finances into what would become the new statewide funding formula.


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