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Go slow on school funding formula changes

Suddenly state Democratic House members who didn’t see changing the school funding formula as a priority in the spring can hardly wait to take action. They want a vote by January, and say it’s urgent that they do so to ensure educational equity and efficient use of taxes.

Isn’t that what the school funding formula should have been providing all along? Why the rush?

The rush, of course, is because Republican Bruce Rauner soon will take over the governor’s office and Democrats want a formula based on their ideas alone. This summer they excluded Republicans from negotiations about the content of the bill. But that won’t be so easy to do once Rauner takes charge.

Rauner and Republicans agree the formula needs revamping, but they believe that the bill as proposed creates too many losing districts at the expense of the winners. “This is a very, very complicated issue. And sadly, the way in which the majority party presented it and went into hiding was a terrible disservice to taxpayers and families whose children are part of the public education system,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said.

The formula has been in place for years; changing it can wait until after Rauner is sworn in and it can be considered as part of the state’s bigger financial picture. It doesn’t make sense to revise the formula until after lawmakers set the income tax rate and until after the courts decide the fate of pension reform.