Compromise School Funding Plan Passes House
It took three different votes, but Illinois may finally be getting the new school funding formula lawmakers have been working on for the past few years. The state House of Representatives yesterday approved a new evidence-based school funding plan. It's a compromise, containing most of the plan Democrats proposed months ago, plus a new $75 million program that would provide tax credits to organizations offering private school scholarships.
Teachers unions criticized that provision.
But Representative Bob Pritchard, a Republican from Hinckley, says this school funding reform measure is one of the best things the Illinois House has done.
"There's been a lot of successful bills that we've passed. We've helped veterans, we've dealt with the environment, with agriculture. But I think this will have the longest-lasting effect," he said.
Nobody got everything they wanted, but almost everybody seemed happy when this compromise legislation got a favorable vote. Besides the private-school provision, Republicans added cost-saving options for PE and drivers ed, plus some property tax relief.
Rep. Will Davis, the Homewood Democrat who carried the bill, was proud of the final product.
"Even with the tweaks of the compromise — the tax credit not withstanding — the rest of that bill represented things that we wanted to do, that we thought we should do, things that were important to do," he said.
Illinois' current school funding formula has some of the biggest gaps between its richest and poorest districts of any state in the nation.
The vote was followed by a flurry of statements from lawmakers and the governor, praising the agreement. In fact, Rauner expressed his gratitude to the man he has spent most of time in office demonizing: Speaker of the House Michael Madigan.
The Senate is expected to approve the compromise today, and Rauner has promised to sign it.??
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