Local schools missed two state aid payments as the folks in Springfield tried, and failed, to gather the Illinois House votes needed to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto on the new school funding formula.
Both sides have reached a compromise, at least in principle, we’re told. The details? Well, we’ll just have to trust the lawmakers when they return Monday to have our best interests at heart.
Just like they did when they spent us into a $14.5 billion bill backlog and a $130 billion state pension deficit.
Just like they did for two years without a state budget followed by a huge income tax hike.
Just like they did when they failed for the first time in Illinois history to make the school state aid payment, then missed another school payment two weeks later.
There are hints that the formula is not much different than the original calculation in Senate Bill 1, but the Rauner proposal that stops schools from ignoring property value tied up in tax increment financing districts may have survived. Locally, that would hurt only Belleville Elementary District 118 to the tune of about $62,977 and boost state aid to most other districts because TIF-crazy Chicago received the lion’s share of that money.
It is a fair change, because taking away the ability for schools to tax that property was a local decision. Schools in Cahokia or Millstadt should not receive less of the pie just because Belleville or Chicago carpeted their cities with tax increment financing districts.
That change would also place a significant burden on local city politicians looking to create or extend tax increment financing districts. Hand cash to businesses, and you take away from students.
Another possible move is that the state would make it easier for schools to get out of two of the big unfunded state mandates — gym class and driver’s ed. Losing those classes is not ideal, but being free of demands by state lawmakers for which they are unwilling to pay is a plus.
As far as changing the teacher’s pet status of Chicago Public Schools, it looks as if the state may be taking on some pension costs while property taxpayers shoulder a bigger burden. The moves should put more pressure on Chicago school leaders to finally consolidate schools and control their costs.
Let’s all cross our fingers and hope the mayhem resulted in something good, whatever it may be.