Republicans highlight inequity in newest Democrat school plan

Republican lawmakers continue to advocate for meaningful education funding reform, saying a newly amended Democrat school funding plan pushed through the Senate in the final hours of the regularly scheduled spring legislative session is based on flawed, misleading data that disguises a massive bailout for Chicago’s school system at the expense of every other district in the state.

According to data circulated by Democrats, CPS would receive an increase of just under $200 per student under the amended Senate Bill 1. In reality, the bill was crafted in such a way that massive increases were built into the base funding minimum for the district. Analysis shows that the actual gain for CPS would be $1,333 per student, far higher than any other district in the model.

Additionally, these results distributed by Democrats are based on previous school years and do not actually represent what schools would receive if the bill were to become law today. To fund this plan in the 2018 fiscal year, it would require an additional $705 million that hasn’t been appropriated in any budget that has passed either chamber.

Of this additional $705 million needed to make the Democrat plan work, $494 million (70 percent) would be given to CPS, while the state’s other 851 school districts would have to share the remaining 30 percent. This big boost for CPS is achieved by twisting the Evidence-Based Model to make Chicago look much poorer than it is, while giving the district credit for making its own pension payment several times over.

Republicans pointed out this and other problems with the legislation, including underlying issues with CPS funding, a broken tax system, and a lack of local support. They noted that Chicago has an effective tax rate of just 1.71 percent for homeowners. The city contributes just 51 percent of its funding from local sources, compared to the state average of 67 percent. The Evidence-Based Model’s local contribution calculation says Chicago should be taxing at 4.2 percent, despite the District’s Operating Tax Rate of only 3.4 percent, suggesting the city has the property wealth available to increase local revenue by nearly 25 percent.

Senate Bill 1 passed in the Senate on May 31, though a parliamentary maneuver retains the measure in the Senate.

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