Springfield….On the final scheduled day of regular legislative session, Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphsyboro) voted no on a measure that would dramatically change Illinois’ public school funding formula.
Bryant says the bill unfairly bails out Chicago Public School pensions, while offering empty promises to the rest of the school districts in the state.
“Although it is possible that some schools in my district would gain financially from a new funding formula, the language contained in SB 1 does not include appropriations or define any methods of paying for the spending,” Bryant said. “Without money, SB 1 is unworkable and disingenuous.”
Following months of testimony and meetings before the Governor’s established School Funding Reform Commission, House Democrats brought the bill to the floor on the last day of Session.
“This was a rushed process right at the end,” Bryant said. “This bill would dedicate $250 million dollars for Chicago school pensions every year, forever. With our budget in shambles and no way identified to pay for this new formula I simply can’t support a Chicago bailout and I won’t support this bill being rushed through the process without an appropriation or funding mechanism.”
Bryant says she is disappointed that Democrats shared inaccurate information with school administrators prior to the vote, leading many to believe that more money was coming their way.
“I think it is a shame that our education officials were given false information regarding the amount of money that would go to school districts across the state if the new formula bill passed,” Bryant said. “In its current form, SB 1 is based on $350 million that is not included in the legislation. No one knows where the money will come from and the sponsor couldn’t answer that question.”
Bryant also noted that the money for Chicago pension payments is being inserted into the bill because Chicago skipped payments for 11 years even though they have been given a $250 million block grant that no other school district in the state received and then they didn’t use the money to make the pension payments.
The bill passed with the bare minimum number of votes and still requires concurrence from the Senate for passage to the Governor.