Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan today announced that he will re-convene hearings on the state’s education funding formula. The state's current formula relies heavily on property taxes, creating a big disparity among schools based on their geographic location. Some districts can spend more than $32,000 per student every year, while others scrape by on a fraction of that amount.
In his State of the State address, Gov. Bruce Rauner said that, "Educating our young people" is the "single most important thing we do together as a community.” He pledged to increase aid to poor districts — and promised he wouldn’t take money from wealthier districts to do it.
State Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat from Macoupin County, prefers to change the formula.
"I would have liked to have heard the word 'inequity' come from the governor during his speech, because when you get past much of the rhetoric in a school funding reform debate, at the heart of the issue is inequity among children,” Manar says. "Are we going to tell the district that only has $7,000 to spend per student that they have to sit and wait until the district that spends five times as much as they do is comfortable? That's what the governor was saying."
A bi-partisan task force of 25 state representatives will re-convene to tackle that topic on February 16th.