Former Gov. Jim Edgar, who tried to re-allocate school funding in the 1990s, says it’s worth another try. At issue is S.B. 16, which Edgar neither endorses nor even knows the details, but he says allocating state money to schools based on poverty – either student poverty or district property tax poverty – is a good idea.
“The reason behind 16 is to re-establish and to update a theme that has been the theme for school aid in Illinois for many, many years which I subscribe to: You help the poorer school districts. The wealthier school districts, they don’t need the help,” he said.
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Edgar says there will be winners and losers, but the losers – the wealthy districts – won’t lose much, and what the winners get will make a big difference.
This will come down to a battle between lawmakers from Downstate, where high-poverty districts are most common, and the Chicago suburbs, which have the wealthier districts.
In 1997, Edgar proposed raising the state income tax and cutting the property tax to fund schools, to reduce to inequality among districts, but that did not happen.