Illinois House rejects school finance deal announced last week

by Garry Watts August 30, 2017, 1:25
Illinois House rejects school finance deal announced last week

The Senate is now scheduled to vote Tuesday on the measure.

Immigrants and refugees in IL can now breathe a sigh of relief, and people eager to vote will find it easier to register.

The plan approved Monday was negotiated by legislative leaders in closed-door meetings throughout recent days.

Without a new funding plan, more than 800 school districts would not get state money.

Cavaletto doesn't think local schools should be overly concerned about the addition of a provision that allows those giving to private schools for scholarships to obtain a 75-cent tax credit for every dollar they spend.

That aspect concerned some Democrats, specifically Chicago lawmakers, and is opposed by powerful teacher unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union and the Illinois Federation of Teachers. The measure had wide bipartisan support in the Democrat-majority Legislature. State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, supported the legislation.

The move places Rauner in a tricky spot as Democrat-heavy Illinois' first GOP governor in over a decade.

She wants to see lawmakers come to an agreement but disagrees with the tax credits included in the compromise plan.

A property tax increase for Chicago was also part of the deal.

"This compromise ensures for the first time in decades that all children in IL will have access to education that is funded fairly and equitably." said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs. School districts are owed an additional $1.2 billion following a more than two-year budget standoff. "The governor's proposal gives the wealthy another break while robbing our public schools of students and dollars".

"Educators and most importantly parents and children everywhere in IL can finally exhale and have confidence that their schools will open and stay open", Mendoza said in a statement following the Senate vote. In short, public schools lose.

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"I have been complaining about them not compromising so it's hard for me to argue now if they are compromising".

"It's not fair but it's going to end up being a compromise", Rauner said.

"It's interesting that the one way to fund public schools today hinges on whether we will provide a tax credit shelter for people who have the money to fund parochial education that is an interesting question on the floor today" said Representative Carol Ammons, D-Champaign.

"At a time when many states across the country are setting high hurdles between citizens and the ballot box, Illinois is at the forefront of a movement to make full voter participation a reality", said Ra Joy, executive director of CHANGE Illinois, a government reform group.

Students receiving the scholarships must have a household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $73,000 annually for a family of four.

Public schools won't get state money until there's a new funding formula because the budget lawmakers approved last month requires it.

But exactly how much more money local school districts will receive remains unclear.

While the Senate overrode the veto on August 13, an override attempt in the House on Monday fell short of a three-fifths majority requirement.

There's been backlash from conservative Republicans in IL, with some saying on social media that this is the beginning of the end for the governor and, if he wants Republican support, this is not the way to get it. Although school officials have said they will be able to open classrooms for the new school year, many districts have anxious they would run out of money if the impasse wasn't resolved soon.

He is among Macon County educators who have expressed increasing concerns about the uncertainty of state funding, with several superintendents saying they would run out of cash by early next year or sooner. The funding can only be released if lawmakers can pass an evidence-based education funding bill.

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