School Funding Plan With Private-Tuition Component Goes To Governor

(CBS) – The Illinois Senate has approved a historic overhaul of the state’s education funding formula.

That means schools will be guaranteed state funding for the year. It also means Chicagoans can brace themselves for another round of property tax increases.

CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has more.

After just 45 minutes of debate, the Illinois Senate approved major revamp of state school funding on Tuesday.

“What we need is in this bill. Every school district will get more money than last year. The people of Illinois will get an opportunity for property tax relief. Students will get the chance to go to schools they couldn’t go to before,” Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, said.

That $75 million dollar school choice plan — providing scholarships through tax credits for private school students — led a handful of Democrats to vote “no.”

“It’s really the camel’s nose under the tent to start to further erode our public school system in a moment when we all agree there’s not enough dollars in our public schools,” said Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, a gubernatorial candidate.

Republicans defended the plan as a path to opportunity for low-income students.

“You’re going to give them an avenue to access a reasonable education. What is not right about that?” Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said.

The plan also directs $350 million in new school spending, primarily to the poorest school districts.

And for Chicago Public Schools: a windfall.

On top of $272 million already raised by property taxes for teacher pensions, the legislation allows Chicago to further hike property taxes to yield as much another $163 million. That’s $435 million in all.

Mayor Emanuel says the tax hikes should be no surprise. “I’ve never, ever said that we were not going to also come up with the resources to make sure our schools were well funded,” he said.

After the vote, Gov. Rauner congratulated lawmakers on the Senate floor, but didn’t speak with reporters. The Illinois House approved the measure Monday.

Rauner is expected to sign the bill quickly so that state aid, which has been delayed for more than two weeks, can start flowing to schools.

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