Springfield – Instead of continuing negotiations on a bipartisan solution to fix the state’s broken school funding formula, Democrats rammed through another partisan bill that would continue special deals for Chicago, according to State Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington).
“I don’t know why Democrats have turned their back on negotiations and agreements, but it’s incredibly frustrating, and it seriously hurts the chances of finally replacing our outdated school funding formula,” said Barickman. “We’ve seen where this game plan leads us, and that’s back to the status quo, which hurts our schools.”
Senate Bill 1, which was initially supposed to be a vehicle for an agreed-to school funding plan, passed the Illinois Senate on May 17th with a narrow party line vote. The legislation continues special deals for Chicago Schools (CPS) which would result in $250 million more funding for that district than it would receive if it was treated the same as all the state’s other school districts.
“We all agree we need real reform to this system, that our formula is broken, and a big part of the problem is these special deals for one district that take money from the rest of our schools,” said Barickman. “We can’t create equity when we don’t treat our schools the same.”
In addition, several other bills passed with similarly narrow party line margins, including a watered-down property tax freeze, authority for the state to borrow $7 billion, and an unbalanced budget.
“We are facing a historic budget crisis, we should be continuing negotiations, not ramming through partisan bills,” said Senator Barickman. “This is the status quo, and isn’t working for the people of Illinois.”
Wednesday did not end without any bright spots, however, the Senate was able to pass negotiated legislation to offer procurement reform for government bodies and schools, gaming expansion to help several struggling areas in the state, along with a pension reform plan.
“We know that bipartisan solutions are possible and we’ve had some successes, but the job isn’t done,” said Senator Barickman. “My hope is that cooler heads will prevail soon and we will be able to get back to the bargaining table and come up with some good legislation that helps our entire state.”
Senator Barickman updates the media in the Capitol press room after session adjournment on May 17th, 2017.