As Labor Day approaches, and as students throughout Illinois return to the classroom to begin another school year, it is important to remember that the success of the stopgap budget, and the historic investment in education funding Republican lawmakers pushed for, was only just the beginning. More work must be done to ensure schools have the resources they need, and that work is already underway.
Through the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, and under the leadership of Gov. Rauner, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are meeting with stakeholders in the education community to develop a new school funding formula that will ensure every student in Illinois, from Chicago to Carbondale, as access to a quality education. This bipartisan Commission will present their recommendation to the Governor and General Assembly by February 1, 2017. This will allow lawmakers the ability to take action in advance of the 2017-2018 school year.
This spirit of bipartisanship must also extend beyond education. If the state's leaders are going to pick up the pieces and get Illinois' fiscal house back in order, lawmakers and the Governor must work together to pass a balanced, full-year budget that incorporates the needed structural reforms that will help improve our state’s economy, while also creating jobs. The old way to doing things is not working, change is needed. The stopgap budget, and the willingness to come together, demonstrated to Illinois residents that change was possible. Now, the General Assembly and Gov. Rauner must show them that our working together wasn’t an illusion, but rather a way forward.