To ensure schools can open in the fall, Senate Republicans introduced Senate Bill 3434, which would provide a full-year funding for elementary and secondary schools, increasing state funding for education by $226 million. It is an affordable plan and includes full funding for General State Aid claims for the first time in seven years. It would also ensure that no districts receive less funding than a year ago. Other highlights of the plan include an additional $75 million for Early Childhood Education, level funding for state mandated programs and additional funding for Agricultural Education ($1.8 million) and Lowest Performing Schools ($1 million).
However, Senate Democrats refused to allow Senate Bill 3434 be considered, instead passing their own stand-alone education funding measure on the last day. However, it was not a cooperative effort. The Democrat-crafted measure (House Bill 2990) would have increased education spending by nearly $1 billion, but it was more fantasy than reality. It proposed to spend money the state simply does not have and cannot afford.
Another unacceptable part of the plan is that most of the new money would be directed to the Chicago Public Schools as a bailout for its teacher pension system. It also would create a new, but uncertain “Equity Grant” to calculate financial support for schools, and whose impact the State Board of Education cannot determine. The legislation would also establish a new funding formula for schools that has not been evaluated. Though the measure was pushed through the Senate just prior to adjournment on May 31, the proposal fell short of passage in the House.