* Press release…
Speaker Michael J. Madigan is forming a bipartisan House task force to continue working on an equitable education funding formula and address questions a state commission recently left unanswered.
“The question of how Illinois funds our public schools is one that affects every community in our state,” Madigan said. “As such, the entire process for making formula changes – from crafting an overall outline for reform, to working through the specific details – needs to be carefully considered by legislators from across the state. This task force will continue House Democrats’ commitment to vetting these decisions and making sure all voices are heard.”
Madigan has appointed Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, as well as Reps. Linda Chapa LaVia, Fred Crespo, William Davis, Marcus Evans, Laura Fine, Jay Hoffman, Rita Mayfield, Emily McAsey, Michelle Mussman, Elgie Sims and Justin Slaughter to form an education funding reform task force along with House Republicans. The task force will continue the work of the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, address unanswered questions in the commission’s final report, and continue to craft equitable school funding reform legislation.
House Democrats serving on the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission recently noted that aspects of the Commission’s final report failed to clearly reflect the group’s discussions. Amongst other concerns, the report did not properly recognize that Illinois’ current school funding system is broken, in large part, because of overreliance on property taxes and underfunding from the state. Illinois’ property tax dollars account for 67 percent of all education spending, while the nationwide average is 45 percent. Without reform that acknowledges this overreliance on property taxes, the current education funding system will continue to be regressive compared to states with less property tax reliance.
“House Democrats played a leading role on the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission, and successfully pushed the Commission to meet more frequently,” Currie said. “While the Commission did not accomplish everything it set out to do, it did show that a bipartisan group of lawmakers can work toward consensus on major issues. There are questions that remain unanswered and points that still need clarification. We look forward to continuing to work cooperatively on this important and complex issue.
The best way to start making this idea into reality is by crafting an actual piece of legislation. That isn’t directly addressed by Madigan’s press release, however.
*** UPDATE *** Illinois Secretary of Education Beth Purvis…
We hope this new education reform task force is not an attempt to delay the positive work and progress of the Illinois School Funding Commission. As was discussed throughout the commission process, the goal was for the framework report to lead to a bill that could pass both chambers and be signed by Governor Rauner. Through bicameral and bipartisan discussions, we stand ready to work together in fixing our state’s broken school funding formula.
Except they can’t even agree who’s gonna write the bill.