Time for action on school funding bills

 
Posted6/22/2016 12:01 AM

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has filed two emergency spending bills that will allow all schools to open on time and also ensure that critical budget areas like universities and colleges, the correctional system and other vital service areas of government are funded through the end of the year.

These bills, HB 6583 and HB 6585, are balanced. Neither would add a cent of debt to the state of Illinois.

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The stopgap, HB 6583, would allow every Illinois school district to be fully funded at 100 percent of the foundation level for the first time since 2012. Additionally, the bill holds harmless those school districts including Chicago Public Schools that would lose state funding in 2017 due to rising property values along with a decline in poverty. But most importantly, it removes K-12 schoolchildren from the crossfire of the larger budget impasse.

What appears to be holding up the stopgap measure at present is the insistence that Chicago schools receive a bailout in the form of over $500 million in increased state funding. This insistence on a bailout is all the more ironic given the resounding rejection of my CPS debt restructuring proposal earlier in the year by Democrats across Illinois. As a reminder, that proposal would have provided additional tools to Chicago schools to dig out of their financial troubles. CPS would prefer the cash, and it appears that Speaker Madigan is willing to bring down the state to achieve this bailout.

It's time for action. These stopgap measures provide a necessary safety net that will ensure our schools open on time and vital state services are in place to serve our vulnerable populations while lawmakers continue working toward agreement on a balanced budget with meaningful reforms to grow the economy.

Ron Sandack

State Representative District 81

Downers Grove

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