Idea: What if state school funding formula died in 2017?

  • Karen McConnaughay

    Karen McConnaughay

 
 
Updated 11/19/2015 6:26 PM

In a year of blown state budget deadlines, an idea from a bipartisan group of rank-and-file lawmakers could create another flashpoint in the future.

The proposal: As part of a comprehensive budget deal, the group wants to freeze property taxes for two years and dissolve the complicated formula that determines how much money local schools get from the state.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The school funding formula would go away in June 2017, forcing lawmakers to come up with a new one by then, in theory.

State Sen. Karen McConnaughay, a St. Charles Republican, says the idea is part of a bipartisan "framework" from a handful of lawmakers that hasn't been agreed to by Gov. Bruce Rauner or any legislative leaders.

The appeal of frozen property taxes to suburban homeowners is clear, and the idea of schools with less money getting more state help is attractive to a lot of lawmakers and many schools across the state. The proposal banks on more money being found so schools with more property tax wealth, like many in the suburbs, wouldn't lose state funds.

This year's budget negotiations have been marked by a lot of blown deadlines, and changing how the state pays for local schools has been hotly debated in Illinois for decades.

Does it make sense to introduce another topic and a new deadline to this particular budget fight?

"It can't be more complex than it already is," McConnaughay said.

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Forcing a change

A spokeswoman for Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago says throwing up a "huge speed bump" in 2017 is the whole point.

Dissolving the school funding system to force the creation of a new one was Cullerton's idea, particularly because including the property tax freeze gives Rauner a clear win in the ongoing budget standoff, Cullerton spokeswoman Rikeesha Phelon said.

"It gives the governor something that he wants," she said.

'I really do'

McConnaughay says the idea represents at least some bipartisan "recognition" that Gov. Bruce Rauner's property tax freeze idea must be connected to changes in how we pay for the main thing those property taxes go to -- schools.

Does she think this concept has to be part of a final budget resolution?

"Yeah, I really do," she said.

Check your sticker

Back in September, Secretary of State Jesse White's office said it would stop mailing reminders to renew your license plate sticker because the state is operating without a budget and the mailings cost $450,000 per month.

So here's a reminder.

White's office says people can go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com and a way to renew the sticker is right at the top of the website.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Will people get a break on fines because of the state's financial problems?

White's office says no. The fines are set in state law.

Moment of truth

After all the positioning, making announcements and making announcements about announcements, candidates finally have to start filing their paperwork Monday to get on the 2016 primary ballot.

They have a week, until Nov. 30, to turn in enough petition signatures.

Monday will bring a little clarity about who is running for what and where the big primary races will be, though candidates can go about trying to kick each other off the ballot in the weeks to come. Hopefuls have been announcing for months, and right up until this week.

On Thursday, East Dundee Trustee Allen Skillicorn announced he'd join what could be a four-way Republican primary to replace retiring state Rep. Mike Tryon of Crystal Lake.

The suburbs are set to be a battleground. Numerous candidates have announced their intentions to run for U.S. Senate from both parties, for example, with Napoleon Harris, a Harvey Democrat, being the most recent to jump into the race this week.

Presidential supporters will have a little longer to get their delegates onto the March ballot.

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