Illinois House passes school funding overhaul on 2nd attempt

The Illinois Home accredited a brand new faculty funding plan Monday that may improve state cash for all districts and supply $seventy five million in tax credit for individuals who donated to non-public faculty scholarships.

Lawmakers voted seventy three-34 to ship the laws to the Senate, the place a vote is predicted Tuesday. Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who walked the ground of the Home after the vote to thank lawmakers, is predicted to help it.

The night vote got here after the identical measure was defeated earlier Monday largely due to objections to the tax credit raised by instructor unions. It additionally occurred minutes after lawmakers did not override Rauner’s modifications to a separate plan most popular by the unions.

Supporters stated the measure they finally authorised is imperfect, however that it’ll scale back big funding disparities between rich and poor faculty districts.

“Everyone wins on this dialog,” stated Democratic Rep. Will Davis, the invoice’s sponsor, who referred to as the measure “historic.”

Legislators from each events have stated for years that the best way Illinois distributes cash to colleges is unfair, however they have been unable to comply with a option to change it. A finances lawmakers accepted final month required for the primary time that the method be modified.

With no new funding plan, greater than 800 faculty districts will not get state cash. Faculty officers have stated they’ll be capable of open lecture rooms for the brand new faculty yr, however many districts fear they’ll run out of cash if the deadlock is not resolved quickly.

The plan authorised Monday was hammered out by legislative leaders in closed-door conferences over current days. It supplies cash for Chicago Public Faculties pension prices and creates a $seventy five million tax credit score program for individuals who donate to non-public faculty scholarships.

A few of Illinois’ largest instructor unions accused Rauner, who used his veto powers on an earlier faculty funding invoice, of utilizing college students “as leverage for personal faculty tax credit.”

“Taxpayer dollars must be invested in our public faculty lecture rooms, plain and easy,” Illinois Federation of Academics President Dan Montgomery stated. “The governor’s proposal provides the rich one other break whereas robbing our public faculties of scholars and dollars.”

The brand new tax credit score can be value seventy five % of a taxpayer’s annual contributions to a scholarship fund, with a most credit score of $1 million yearly. The cash could also be donated to a selected faculty or “subset” of faculties, however to not a selected scholar. The credit score is a 5-yr pilot program.

College students receiving the scholarships should have a complete family revenue of lower than 300 % of the federal poverty degree, or about $seventy three,000 yearly for a household of 4. Spiritual leaders, together with Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago, have lobbied for the credit score.

Earlier this yr, Democrats authorised separate laws that offered cash to the state’s neediest districts first, and that offered further funding to districts that serve bigger numbers of scholars in poverty or who’re English-language learners.

However Rauner used his veto authority to make modifications to the laws, saying it offered an excessive amount of cash to financially strapped Chicago Public Faculties.

The Illinois Senate voted to override Rauner’s modifications, with one Republican becoming a member of majority Democrats. After pushing aside a vote due to leaders’ negotiations on a recent deal, the Home tried unsuccessfully late Monday to comply with go well with. The override required a 3-fifths majority, or seventy one sure votes. It acquired sixty three sure votes.


Related Press author Sophia Tareen contributed from Chicago.

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