Parents and school districts would have assurance that Illinois schools will open on time in the fall with full funding under legislation filed by State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).
“Our schools need to know they will have the money they need to operate so they can open their doors this fall,” said Sen. Barickman. “This is a win for every single school district and the state as a whole.”
The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Sue Rezin (R-Peru) and Senator Chuck Weaver (R-Peoria).
After seven years of deliberate underfunding, or “proration,” by Illinois Democrats, Barickman said Senate Bill 3434 would fully fund Illinois schools for the first time in seven years. This is similar to a plan pushed by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this year.
Notably, Barickman’s legislation would end the controversy over “winners and losers” for the coming school year by guaranteeing that all schools receive at least as much money as they did for the current school year.
Senate Democrats have recently attempted to push through multiple school funding bills that all contained hundreds of millions of dollars in special deals for Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Those deals have been viewed by many as bailouts for struggling CPS. None of those measures have made it through both chambers of the General Assembly, and likely wouldn’t be signed into law by the Governor if they did.
“Those special deals are the poison pills that have been holding up school funding and reform,” said Sen. Barickman. “My legislation targets the two things everyone can agree on, ending proration by fully funding all schools and making sure that no school loses money next year.”
The hold harmless provision, which would guarantee that all schools receive as much General State Aid for the 2016-2017 school year as they did in 2015-2016, would cost $105 million over Governor Rauner’s proposed education budget. Like the Governor’s proposal, Barickman’s bill would also increase early childhood spending by $75 million.
The legislation also includes $10 million in funding for various programs identified with bipartisan legislative input, including $1.8 million for agriculture education.
Senator Barickman’s legislation would accomplish this while still saving $620.2 million when compared to the most recent budget bill passed by Democrats in the House.
“This bill allows our schools to budget right now for the coming year without having to worry about making major cuts to programs, and it will allow us time in the General Assembly to work on a long-term, bipartisan solution to reform the way our state funds schools” said Senator Barickman. “There’s no excuse to not move forward on fully funding our schools now, our children are too important.”