Illinois can’t afford to pass its financial problems to local school districts, says the chairman of the State Board of Education. The state already gives its school districts the least financial assistance of every state in the nation, says Chairman Gery Chico. Also, many school districts are already waiting for thousands of dollars of state aid while lawmakers are considering slashing the budget for education and making the school districts pay more for teachers’ pensions.
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Lawmakers are also considering using revenue from the corporate personal property replacement tax to pay for pensions, a source that is commonly used by school districts and local governments.
It’s a perfect storm, says Chico, but he has says he has faith lawmakers will support the governor’s proposal that keeps the elementary and secondary education budget flat.
“Because he realizes that education has got to be solid going forward,” Chico says. “Each and every community in this state needs to have educated people.”
But State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood) says that doesn’t bother some lawmakers. “Some members here just want to cut, cut, cut, cut, cut until there’s nothing left and they don’t care if they destroy health care or education,” Davis says. “They don’t really care. It’s all about their political mantra that we just have to cut. The state has to live within its fiscal means.”
The Illinois House proposal cuts $260 million from elementary and secondary education, but the Senate’s plan keeps funding flat.