Gov. Bruce Rauner has a new education agenda, which includes changing the school aid formula and allowing items to be excluded from collective bargaining by school districts.
Changing the formula for how much aid school districts receive from the state has been pushed by both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. Rauner listed it as his top priority in a 10-point education plan discussed in his State of the State address.
"This education agenda is bold and transformative," Rauner said. "Change is difficult, but by working together we can make it a reality. The people of Illinois deserve nothing less than the best education system in America."
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Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) had called on Rauner to make changing the funding formula a priority earlier in the week, and supported its inclusion in the address.
"I heard the governor echo my call for making school funding reform a priority and his desire to come up with a system that better recognizes the needs of students living in poverty and those facing other challenges. I commend him on that stand. An equitable school funding system is the turnaround Illinois needs," Cullerton said in a statement.
Among his other proposals, Rauner wants to increase funding to early childhood education, consolidate education task forces and councils, and support vocational training programs through partnerships with high schools, community colleges, and employers.
The plan also includes measures which Democrats have largely opposed over the course of Rauner's first year in office, such as allowing school districts to take items out of collective bargaining.
"We need to give school districts more flexibility when it comes to bargaining, contracting, and bidding, to save taxpayers money, while enabling districts to pay higher teacher salaries," Rauner said in his speech.
That portion of the 10-point plan was criticized by Illinois Federation of Teachers president Dan Montgomery, who said in a statement, "We reject the Governor's demand that change must be contingent on his political agenda to weaken the rights and voices of working people, whom he’s been attacking relentlessly."