Illinois House Passes Ed Funding Bill

Bruce Rauner Wikipedia  Lealan Buehrer

Lawmakers voted 73-34 on Monday evening to send the legislation to the Senate, where a vote was expected Tuesday.

A compromise funding plan that would ensure public schools can stay open this year garnered enough support Monday in the Illinois House to move forward.

But some of Illinois' largest teacher unions have already lined up against the measure, saying Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is using students "as leverage for private school tax credits".

Democrats said it closed huge disparities in per-student funding between wealthy and poor districts.

IL joins more than half a dozen other states with some form of automatic registration, which proponents say boosts civic participation.

At the federal level, Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) has taken the lead on sponsoring a national AVR bill, and his proposal has 108 co-sponsors.

The governor's amendatory veto earlier this month made several changes to the bill that included the removal of those considerations - which would result in CPS receiving $463 million less in state aid, according to an analysis from the Illinois State Board of Education. He vetoed a similar plan previous year, but this time Democrats made changes to try to assuage some of the governor's concerns.

It took three different votes, but IL finally may be getting the new school-funding formula that lawmakers have been working on for the past few years.

Under the new plan, the state will determine how much money each district needs to adequately educate its students, taking into consideration the number who live in poverty, are English learners or need special education services. It provides money for Chicago Public Schools pension costs and creates a $75 million tax credit program for people who donate to private school scholarships. However, he is disappointed with the last minute addition of the tax break for those giving to private school scholarships.

The new tax credit would be worth 75 percent of a taxpayer's annual contributions to a scholarship fund, with a maximum credit of $1 million annually.

"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. The same bill would have created a new provision in IL state contracting laws to prevent repeated or willful violators of certain wage-and-hour laws from doing business with the state for a period of five years. Sources said he has invited the four legislative leaders, Emanuel, and Cupich to attend the signing in Chicago.

Other Republicans supported the measure, calling it a bipartisan compromise that will help schools throughout the state.

The Illinois Senate voted to override Rauner's changes, with one Republican joining majority Democrats. Monday's vote garnered 63 yes votes. The House put off a vote because of leaders' negotiations on a fresh deal.

Without an evidence-based model in place, no state funding can be disbursed to K-12 schools across IL at all, due to a provision in the budget passed in July that makes aid contingent on an overhaul of the funding formula.