Senate advances flawed education funding measures

Multiple proposals were advanced by the Illinois Senate this week that would change the way education is funded in Illinois, efforts that Republican Senators characterized as rushed attempts to drive additional dollars to Chicago Public Schools.

Lawmakers were given very little time to review the measures, House Bill 3190 and House Bill 813, abbreviated timelines Republican lawmakers criticized in light of the importance of the proposals.

Though House Bill 3190 incorporated elements of an “evidenced based” education funding model that is generating support from lawmakers from both parties, the proposal still directed hundreds of millions of dollars to CPS for the district’s controversial “Chicago Block Grant” and a $205 million pension payment—meaning it still includes at least $750 million in special deals for the Chicago Public School system. Critics of the measure also noted that due to the haste with which the legislation was rolled out, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) was not able to determine what impact the proposals would have on local school districts.

Another school funding measure, House Bill 813, that was rushed through the Senate would also change the school funding formula—and direct hundreds of millions of dollars in additional state dollars to Chicago.

Republican lawmakers have remained engaged in efforts to reform the state’s system of funding education. However, they maintain they will not support any legislation that places the interests of Chicago Public Schools ahead of every other student in the state. Instead, Republican legislators have joined the Governor in calling for full funding of General State Aid for schools, which would end the seven years of deliberate underfunding of schools advanced by Democrats.

Though the legislation lacked Republican support, it was advanced to the Senate floor for consideration by the full Senate body.

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