School funding reform is of the utmost importance to all Illinois residents, whether they have children in the public school system or not. The majority of funding for our public schools is supposed to be given by the state government, yet over time the state has fallen short of this constitutional mandate. When that happens, the responsibility is shifted to the property taxpayers, which is why we pay so much more here in Illinois than in surrounding states.
The budget passed earlier this month left many questions in regards to education funding. Specifically, the budget increased funding for education, but only appropriates that money if the evidence based model is in effect. Currently, the foundation formula is in state statute, so money cannot be distributed to school districts until that is changed.
This is a clear example of the majority party using children to further their political agenda.
During the spring legislative session, a bipartisan working group of Democrats and Republicans made great strides negotiating to change current foundation formula to the evidence-based model. Unfortunately, like we see far too often, the majority party walked away from negotiations. Instead, in the final week of session, they ran their own bill which imbeds a perpetual Chicago Public Schools (CPS) pension bailout into the formula.
School funding reform is about making sure all 852 school districts in Illinois receive the funding they need to educate their students properly. That’s why the proposed idea that 70 percent of the new funding will head to Chicago when they only contain 23 percent of our student population is preposterous. This CPS bailout is not about improved learning for CPS students. This money will not be headed for the classrooms. It is about adults’ pensions, not children’s education. How does bailing out CPS pensions help students in classrooms anywhere else around the state?
That’s why I have chosen to support bills that truly send the money where it is needed. Both HB4069 and SB1124 provide equitable funding for Illinois Valley schools as well as Chicago.
By sitting back and accepting SB1 for what it is, I would be actively allowing almost $2 million that our school districts deserve, to be sent up to Chicago to correct years of financial mismanagement.
I am focused on ensuring Illinois is taking a fair approach so that all school districts get the critical resources they need to educate our children.
Illinois State Rep. Jerry Long