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Republicans urge Democrat leaders to send school funding legislation to Governor

Even though a state budget is in place, Democrats are preventing schools from getting state funding by playing political games with a new formula that is required by law to be enacted before they can receive the bulk of their funding for the coming school year.  Senate Republicans are asking Democrat leaders to stop manufacturing an unnecessary crisis and take action, to ensure Illinois schools receive their state funding and their doors open on time.

The Fiscal Year 2018 state budget that was recently enacted includes a provision that ties an overwhelming majority of state school funding to an “evidence-based funding” model. However, Democrat legislators are using a procedural maneuver to stall and prevent Senate Bill 1—an evidence-based school funding model that cleared the General Assembly on May 31—from advancing to Governor Bruce Rauner, so he can take action on the measure.

This week, Governor Rauner announced he intends to use an amendatory veto to remove special deals included in Senate Bill 1 that would benefit just one district, Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Democrats amended the legislation prior to passage, in order to divert hundreds of millions of dollars away from 851 Illinois school districts to the benefit just one, CPS.  

Governor Bruce Rauner announced this week that his amendatory veto would adjust Senate Bill 1 so that it is closely aligned with the original ideals proposed by his School Funding Reform Commission – which had bipartisan support. The Governor’s changes would closely mirror a compromise measure, Senate Bill 1124, introduced by Senate Republicans. Estimates based on data from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) show that nearly every single district would receive major increases in funding due to the Governor’s proposed changes.

By holding Senate Bill 1 in the Senate and blocking action on Republican school funding proposals that have been introduced, the Democrats have placed school payments in jeopardy, leaving kids, teachers and parents waiting to find out if their schools will open on time.

Republican lawmakers have joined the Governor in urging their Democrat colleagues to stop playing games with school funding, in what appears to be an effort to create a crisis for Illinois schools. Instead, they stress Senate Bill 1 should be immediately sent to the Governor for action. This would allow for work to immediately begin on a compromise on school funding reform that lawmakers were very close to achieving this past May.

Amendatory veto plan would be better for schools

According to analysis based on funding levels from the enacted budget, the Governor’s planned amendatory veto would create a fairer system for the state’s K-12 schools.

By removing the Chicago-only deals, more money would be distributed through the evidence-based model, which uses scientific data and accepted best practices to send funding where it is needed most. This would ensure Illinois schools are funded more equitably, and direct precious state resources to the neediest school districts based on the evidence-based model—not on political deals for one school district.

No schools would lose funding under the Governor’s planned amendatory veto. Struggling districts and lower-income districts would pick up much-needed help. As an example, East St. Louis would gain approximately $2,604,945 due to the Governor’s amendatory veto, compared to just $1,378,691 under Senate Bill 1 in its current form. Peoria would add $4,076,775 with the veto, versus $1,850,542 through the current version of Senate Bill 1.

To see how all schools do better under the Governor’s school funding plan, please visit:  https://www.illinois.gov/gov/SitePages/SchoolDistrictFunding.aspx.

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