Friday, July 1, 2016

Illinois State Budget Impasse Ends... For Now

June 30, 2016

A compromise K12 budget was passed just before 4PM today. The bill covers all of Fiscal Year 2017. The legislature also passed a Stop Gap 6 month budget for other state agencies and higher education.

Today ends an historic budget impasse that has had long lasting negative effects on the students, families, employers, and institutions across Illinois. Students and families have already been negatively impacted by the year-long budget impasse. Social service agencies reduced services or shut their doors, colleges and universities have made dramatic cuts or increased tuition, and the list of casualties goes on and on.

The compromise budget for K12 education fully funds the General State Aid formula for the first time in almost a decade. No school districts will receive less state funding than they received in Fiscal Year 2016! That would be good news in any other state. Illinois holds the dubious distinction of having the most inequitable and regressive funding system in the United States. Unfortunately, the over-reliance on local property taxes has allowed the state to ignore its constitutional requirements to adequately fund public education.

The General Assembly and the Governor have a long way to go to meet the spirit and letter of the Illinois State Constitution which reads, “The State has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.”  As a state, we need to work hard to ensure that we reduce the inequities in school funding.  Funding for education should not be differentiated by zip code or region.  

I remain optimistic that members of the General Assembly will keep the conversation about reforming the school funding formula and reducing the inequities.