SPRINGFIELD– There’s agreement among legislative leaders that the state’s education funding formula needs to be changed, but it won’t happen until after the budget stalemate is settled.
Leaders mentioned the issue after the latest budget talks with Gov. Bruce Rauner, and all said it’s a complicated matter which needs to be studied.
Regional differences are what make it complex, with a 2014 attempt to change the formula being derailed after suburban legislators cried foul that the reforms would benefit Chicago and downstate school districts at their expense.
Chicago Public Schools already receives $600 million in block grants from the state on top of its share of regular state aid, but House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) believes the extra support is necessary because of Chicago’s high percentages of students who have special needs or live in poverty, and will continue to defend that support to downstaters.
“They don’t necessarily agree with my statements that this particular system deserves special attention, special consideration. That’s understandable. I’m not going to change these statements,” Madigan said.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) was one of the lawmakers who spoke out against the 2014 funding formula change effort. He does want to see it changed, but won’t make it a requirement for his support on a budget deal.
“We’re not going to handle until after we resolve this budget impasse,” Durkin said.
Madigan said he and Durkin have formed what Madigan calls a “bipartisan group” in the House to look into ways to change the funding formula which would be able to pass in the legislature.