The House is proposing to cut $260 million from K-12 education for next year. That proposal differs from the governor’s and Senate’s plans to keep the bottom line unchanged. State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood) says the Senate moved around unused money to make up the difference. He says he would have done the same for education but House leadership wouldn’t consider it. Instead, that money was shifted elsewhere.
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“Well they found money for public safety to keep prisons open,” Davis says. “So you mean to tell me that keeping a prison open has a higher priority than education?” Lawmakers are also considering several other options that would diminish revenue for schools. One proposal would make school districts pay more for teachers’ pensions. Another would take $8.7 million from the Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax revenue to pay for pensions, which is a pot of revenue commonly used by local governments. Illinois is last in the nation for the amount of state assistance it gives to school districts and the state owes schools millions in unpaid bills. He says the situation will inevitably force some school districts to make a combination of cuts, layoffs and property tax increases. Both chambers and the governor must agree before the proposal is final.