The Illinois legislature on Tuesday approved a major, bipartisan overhaul of the way Illinois funds public education.
Illinois' current school funding formula dates back to 1997. And efforts to replace it with something more logical, more fair, and more equitable? To hear lawmakers tell it, those also date back almost 20 years.
State Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, has been leading the charge since 2013. And even though the bill that finally won approval had a few things he didn't like and missed a few things he did, he's counting it as a win.
"All along the way, especially toward the end of this debate, we knew this was a moment we had to grab and not let go of," he said.
Backers are calling it a landmark reform. It would focus state spending on areas with more students in poverty — though no school district would get less funding than it does today. The legislation would also create a tax credit — demanded by Republicans — for donating to a new private school scholarship program.
Democratic State Senator Kimberly Lightford, from Chicago, says the change has been a long time in coming.
“This is what compromise looks like,” she said. “This is it. A bill that none of us like — at 100 percent.”
With today’s vote in the state Senate, all that remains is for Gov. Bruce Rauner to sign the bill into law, which he has said he’ll do.
The governor has said he will sign the school funding bill into law.
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