Instead of advancing a bipartisan proposal to keep schools open while reforming the way the state funds all schools, Senate Democrats have instead turned the plan into another attempt at a Chicago Public Schools Bailout.
“We could be making sure schools open in the fall, we could be fixing the funding formula right now,” said State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington). “Instead the Democrats are back to pushing a bill they know will never become law, just to score political points with Chicago voters.”
Once it became clear that Senate Bill 231 wasn’t going to advance in the Illinois House, State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) had put forward a bipartisan framework that would increase school funding for the upcoming fiscal year. The plan was to use increased funding and certain limited elements of Senate Bill 231 to serve as a both a lift to schools now and a bridge forward to a longer-term solution. That would allow the transition to the evidence-based formula which was developed by the education committee and shepherded by Senator Barickman in the General Assembly.
Unfortunately Democrats instead chose to simply fuse Senate Bill 231 to a version of the evidence model. That move would represent an immediate windfall of a half of a billion dollars to CPS at the expense of downstate schools.
“We were making real and significant progress on school funding reform in the working groups, progress on something that could pass both chambers and be passed into law,” said Senator Barickman. “By inserting a half billion dollar bailout for CPS, Democrats have proven they no longer have any interest in the idea of compromise. They have shown that they care more about a Chicago bailout than making sure schools open this fall.”
The legislation narrowly passed the Senate on a partisan vote and is now headed to the House where it likely won’t see a vote anytime soon.
No K-12 school funding has been passed into law yet for the 2016-2017 school year. Now that Democrats have walked away from negotiations, it seems unlikely that school funding will pass before the session adjourns on May 31.