Reforming public education funding in Illinois is on the minds of many as students return to school and districts face restrictive budgets.
During a meeting of McDonough County's Interagency Council, two west-central Illinois lawmakers voiced their support for changing the system.
Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) said if Illinois funded schools based on need instead of zip code, nearly all of the school districts in his Senate district would receive an increase in state aid.
"Overall in the state of Illinois there are winners and losers and that makes the bill controversial as you can imagine," Sullivan said. "Those who would be losers would be those areas and school districts that have high property tax revenues."
That's because under the new formula outlined in Senate Bill 16, the state would give more money to schools in property-poor areas.
“While it does not take the burden off the property taxes, I believe it does make it more palatable to the taxpayer to know that they are funding their schools in a much better way than what we are currently doing," said Representative Norine Hammond (R-Macomb).
Hammond said she feels encouraged lawmakers are finally having this discussion. She said the state currently funds education at 90% and she said that needs to change.
“That to me speaks volume that we have our priorities mixed up and instead of expanding or creating new programs we should fully fund education at 100%," Hammond said. "Put that at the top of the list and then work down from there.”
The bill passed the Illinois Senate late during this year's session. The House could take it up before the next session of the General Assembly convenes.