House Democrats Vote Down School Funding Bill

Ashlee Rezin  Chicago Sun-Times

"This compromise ensures for the first time in decades that all children in IL will have access to education that is funded fairly and equitably." said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a measure Monday allowing automatic voter registration in IL, a move that comes a year after he rejected a similar measure over concerns about voter fraud.

Fortunately for IL schoolkids, enough House and Senate members did agree to a long overdue compromise - those bargains in which you may not get everything you want. The district expect $450 million under the overhaul.

Democrats relented, joining Republicans to pass the bill with 73 votes, 2 more than were needed, even though the legislation includes $75 million in tax credits for people who contribute to private schools.

Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti says the bill does not transform IL into a sanctuary state but instead keeps violent criminals behind bars.

The measure increases funding for school districts and distributes the money in a way lawmakers say is more equitable.

But, he and other superintendents don't like the private school tax-credit program.

The evening vote came after the same measure was defeated earlier Monday largely because of objections to the tax credits raised by teacher unions.

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In exchange, changes to the way tax increment financing districts are calculated into a school's local funding capabilities may be imminent, at Republicans' behest, plus a potential allowance for districts to get rid of requirements, like physical education, for which the state does not provide funding.

Already, schools haven't received two payments from the state due to the delay.

In a statement, Rauner praised lawmakers for passing "historic education reform".

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery says Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is using students "as leverage for private school tax credits". Contributions can be directed toward a specific school, but not students or groups of students.

Additionally, Illinois will begin to pick up the tab for Chicago Public Schools' teachers' retirement benefits, as it does for every other district.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police also supports the bill, in part because they agree that enabling local police to enforce immigration enforcement could worsen relations between their police departments and immigrant communities that may be too fearful of deportation to report crime.

Opponents of the TRUST Act say it makes IL a sanctuary state and puts the state at risk for losing federal law enforcement grants.

Rauner was originally supposed to sign the bill in a ceremony with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition earlier this summer, but amid staff turnover amongst his senior advisers and media team, the signing ceremony was postponed. "In more affluent school districts, this bill provides taxpayers with a chance to lower their property taxes through the referendum process".

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