Illinois’ school formula passes, giving 800-plus public districts more money | St. Louis Public Radio

Illinois’ school formula passes, giving 800-plus public districts more money

Updated at 3:45 p.m. Aug. 29 with comment from Belleville superintendent — Illinois’ school funding overhaul fight is all but over thanks to Tuesday’s 38-13 Senate vote.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner has said he’ll quickly sign the plan, which will increase aid to more than 800 public school districts. Already, schools haven't received two payments from the state due to the delay in instituting the new funding mechanism.

Supporters have called the legislation "historic" because it will reduce huge disparities in per-student funding between districts. The measure also provides $75 million for tax credits for people who contributed to private school scholarships.

Teacher unions opposed the credits, often called "vouchers," arguing taxpayer money shouldn't be used toward private schools.

Some legislators in the House who initially opposed the measure changed to "yes" votes late Monday, fearing that without another funding plan available, schools would run out of money.

Under the plan, students who receive private school scholarships must have a total household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which for a 4-person household is $24,600. Contributions can be directed toward a specific school, but not students or groups of students. The tax credits will be awarded proportionally around the state.

Belleville Superintendent Matt Klosterman preferred the version the legislature passed during the regular session, which Rauner used an amendatory veto on, leading to the compromise. Klosterman said time will tell what the overall impact of the tax credit scholarships will be. 

"I’m kind of disappointed that piece worked its way into the legislation but I understand there’s always a give and take when you come up with compromises and negotiate things," he said.

One positive bit of information for Klosterman: His district will receive $1.4 million more each year under the new formula. He noted that his schools were running normally despite the missed state payments.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @rpatrickdelaney.

Original story from Aug. 28:

 It took two tries and a failed veto override, but the Illinois House passed an amended public school funding plan on Monday. Initially unveiled earlier in the day, the measure includes $75 million per year in tax credits for people who contribute to private school scholarships. 

The plan was put together in private by bipartisan legislative leaders. The House's first vote was 46-61, but after failing to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the original funding legislation, the chamber tried again. This time, it passed 73-34.

Rauner came to the House floor after the vote to shake hands.

Under the plan, students who receive private school scholarships must have a total household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level, which for a 4-person household is $24,600. Contributions can be directed toward a specific school, but not students or groups of students. The tax credits will be awarded proportionally around the state.

Teachers unions oppose the tax credit, which is often called a "voucher."  

The state budget approved by lawmakers earlier this summer requires a new formula for schools to get money. Both parties agree the 20-year-old calculation Illinois currently uses is unfair. Already, schools haven't received two payments from the state due to the delay. 

"It's time for everyone, if they have minor objections, look at the goal," House Republican leader Jim Durkin said Sunday. "Who gets hurt? No one gets hurt, everyone succeeds under this. Every student in Illinois is going to be a beneficiary of what we have to come to a conclusion in."

The bill would take effect immediately after Rauner signs it, but it must first pass the Senate with three-fifths of the vote.