Illinois Lawmakers Approve New Public Schools Funding Formula

CHICAGO (CBS) — For the third year in a row, Illinois lawmakers ended their spring session without approving a budget, but they did approve an overhaul of the way the state doles out money for public schools.

The school funding reform measure could benefit the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools, but the legislation faces an uncertain future when it reaches Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk, as Republicans have called it an unfair bailout of CPS.

Illinois has the largest spending gap in the country between poor and wealthy school districts.

Late Wednesday night, the Illinois Senate followed the House in voting to change the state’s education funding formula.

The measure would allocate funds based on student population, and what type of resources are available at the local level. The new formula is based in part on a framework hammered out by a bipartisan commission put together by the governor’s office last year.

All of the more than 800 school districts in the state would receive at least the same amount of money they did last year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel hailed the funding bill as a meaningful first step, and called on Rauner to sign it.

However, Republicans said the new deal is a thinly veiled bailout for CPS, providing Chicago schools with hundreds of millions of dollars of extra funding.

The state pays about one quarter of the bill for public schools in Illinois, the fourth lowest rate in the U.S., despite the Illinois Constitution giving the state the primary responsibility for funding public education.

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