Expect there to be heated debate in Springfield about whether K-12 education should be funded before or after the state’s decades-old funding formula is reformed.
Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar planned to file an amendment to Senate Bill 231 on Wednesday that he said will address the state’s school funding formula, which Gov. Bruce Rauner and leading Republicans and Democrats have all said needs to be changed.
Manar said the proposal gets rid of the Chicago block grant, brings pension parity for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and drives state resources to high-need, high-poverty districts. One thing the bill doesn't include is time for more study.
“There is no monopoly in ideas, but I do reject the idea that this should be studied longer,” Manar said.
Gov. Bruce Rauner said changing the formula will be hard and any reform shouldn’t be a precursor to fully funding school districts for the coming fiscal year.
When asked about school funding Tuesday, Rauner said that Senate President John Cullerton plans to hold up K-12 education funding until the funding formula is changed.
“That’s wrong,” Rauner said. “We should not hold school funding hostage to this issue.”
John Patterson, spokesman for Cullerton, said in an email response, “The Senate president has said a fair school funding system is his top priority. Everyone, including the governor, agrees the current system is broken. Why not fix it?”
Asked if school funding for the coming fiscal year would be tied to the proposed formula reform, Patterson wrote, “Ultimately, a final budget would be a product of the Senate, House and hopefully the governor.”