The budget crisis in Illinois -- and subsequent trickle-down effect on schools -- has gotten so bad that Palatine Township Elementary District 15 officials can't help but sometimes laugh.
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat whose redrawn 57th House District cuts into the northeastern section of the 12,000-student school district, stopped by this month's board meeting to introduce herself.
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She stepped up to the mic when board member Rich Bokor, who every month briefs the board on related court cases and legislation, invited Nekritz to share whether the state is working on the "possibility of educational funding that will help us out."
Bokor's sarcastic line got laughs from just about everyone, and, as expected, the news was not positive.
"I think it is likely that education gets cut again this year," said Nekritz, co-author of a recent proposal to slash the state's escalating retirement costs. "The increase in the pension payment continues to exceed the increase in state revenues, and that forces cuts that we have to make in order to balance the budget."
The bottom line?
"I think the dire reports you're hearing are all true," Nekritz said, adding that lawmakers are well aware of the disparity in funding between Chicago schools and suburban and downstate districts.
As she returned to her seat, Nekritz joked that she appreciated the opportunity to deliver the bad news.
Again, people could only sigh -- and laugh.