* Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) held a press conference yesterday to respond to sponsors of a resolution who want to stop his education funding bill from moving forward…
The resolution offered this month by Downers Grove Rep. Ron Sandack and co-sponsored by two-fifths of the GOP caucus, along with two Democrats, decries what it says is Sen. Andy Manar’s “piecemeal reallocation” of schoolhouse funding that will cause hundreds of districts “deep budget reductions and financial uncertainty.”
Clearly miffed, Manar fired back on Monday, telling reporters at the state Capitol, “there is a cost to not getting this right in the state budget and it’s severe.” […]
He said the school-aid formula is supposed to adjust for local district wealth but demographic changes now skew it against poor districts.
“Until we get this right and we drive resources to (needy) districts,” Manar said, ” … then we’re never going to get at the root of major cost-drivers in the state budget, which is the correctional system, which is unemployment, which is the Medicaid system.”
* Some video from the Senate Democrats…
* Rep. Ron Sandack responded…
“Senator Manar has accused me and the other co-sponsors of House Resolution 1276 of trying to halt discussions into the need for education reform. My colleagues and I have done no such thing. We have simply sounded the alarm that SB16 is being talked about in closed door meetings, and have let Illinois taxpayers know that the bill, as written and approved in the Senate, would cause a great deal of financial harm to hundreds of school districts.
“Our resolution urges the General Assembly to cease in their efforts to pass SB16 because it does not solve problems with the education funding formula; it simply creates a new list of funding winners and losers.
“During his remarks, Senator Manar himself admitted that SB16 still needs work. Why would any legislator knowingly approve a bad bill? This ‘pass it now and we’ll fix it later’ mentality is dangerous and it’s how bad bills end up becoming bad laws in our state.
“The Senator certainly looked agitated and bothered as he was taking his personal shots at me and my House Resolution this morning. But we suburban legislators are taking all of this very personally. He is taking aim at our schools and defunding them.
“Had he read HR1276, Senator Manar would have seen clear language promoting a thoughtful and thorough process for complete education funding reform. My public statements regarding the dangers of SB16 have always included references to the need for comprehensive reforms so that all students across the state can be college and career ready.
“The Senator spoke at length about the bipartisan process that led to the creation of the Education Funding Advisory Committee’s report. But activity over the summer has been completely partisan. Republicans only learned of the SB16 meetings from education advocacy groups who alerted us to the fact that the meetings were taking place. Senator Manar’s claims that the process remains bipartisan are completely false.
“During his remarks, Senator Manar, a Democrat, said that school funding proration has been devastating to Illinois schools, yet he takes no responsibility for the fact that the Democrats are the ones who have created budgets that have cut education spending by more than $600 million since 2009. Simply making wise financial decisions that start with funding education at 100% would go far in addressing many schools’ struggles.
“I invite Senator Manar to dispense with the angry partisan bickering and secret Democrats-only meetings and engage in a full and open discussion about education funding reform. We need to bring all stakeholders to the table and talk outside of the parameters of SB 16, which directly threatens suburban schools.”
First he denies that he’s trying to hold up talks, then he admits it: “Our resolution urges the General Assembly to cease in their efforts to pass SB16…”
Plus, the bill isn’t ready yet. There are still discussions going on.
And the $600 million cut? C’mon. Only if you think that Democrats “cut” the federal stimulus money. And if you include pension contributions, it’s way up.
Should the Republicans be included in these talks? Sure they should. It’s a mistake to keep them out, unless all they want to do is score political points.