Rauner’s school funding changes are a win for 97 percent of Illinois districts

Rauner’s school funding changes are a win for 97 percent of Illinois districts

All Illinois school districts would receive more state money than last year.

The Illinois State Board of Education, or ISBE, on Aug. 12 released the results of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, a school funding plan. The results are favorable to an overwhelming number of school districts across the state.

More than 97 percent of Illinois school districts will receive more state funding under the governor’s amendatory veto compared with SB 1 as it was originally sent to the governor’s desk. That means 831 of the state’s 852 school districts will see more state dollars due to Rauner’s changes.

And all districts will receive more state dollars than they did last year.

The biggest beneficiaries of the governor’s changes are many of Illinois’ neediest districts, including those in Waukegan, Rockford, Aurora, Cicero, East St. Louis and Danville.

Rockford School District 205 is set to receive $9.5 million more in state funding compared with the original version of SB 1 passed by the General Assembly. Waukegan CUSD 60 is set to receive $6.5 million more. And East St. Louis School District 189 is set to receive $1.1 million more.

These results strongly contradict much of what was said about the governor’s changes prior to ISBE releasing its analysis.

Peoria School District 150, which claimed it would lose $1 million in state funding, will actually gain nearly $4 million under the governor’s amendatory veto.

Springfield School District 186 claimed it could lose funding, but it will actually gain $1 million.

Others have criticized the amendatory veto as focusing on protecting wealthy districts, despite the fact that ISBE’s analysis shows poor districts would benefit significantly.

Notably, every school district represented by the chief Senate sponsor of SB 1, state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, would receive more money under Rauner’s amendatory veto than under Manar’s original bill. In total, the 20 school districts within Manar’s Senate district would receive an additional $8.7 million under Rauner’s amendatory veto.

In addition, the number of districts negatively affected by the amendatory veto was limited to 20, excluding Chicago Public Schools. Their losses, on average, amounted to cuts of less than 1.5 percent compared with what they would have received under SB 1. All those districts, however, will get more state funding under the amendatory veto compared with what they received in 2017.

CPS is the most affected district because Rauner’s amendatory veto removed several subsidies that heavily or exclusively favored CPS at the expense of other districts. Those subsidies included:

  • An annual $200 million “block grant” carved out years ago, exclusively for CPS.
  • Special treatment of CPS in the new funding formula – tied to the district’s legacy pension debt – that no other district received.
  • Special subsidies for districts in property tax-capped jurisdictions and economic development zones that have disproportionately benefited CPS over the years.

Under the original version of SB 1 as well as under Rauner’s amendatory veto, the state would begin paying $215 million toward CPS’ normal pension costs going forward. This would put CPS on par with all other districts around the state.

According to ISBE’s analysis, CPS ended up with $463 million less than it would have received under the original version of SB 1. But this number is misleading. In reality, this is offset by $221 million in the new state pension contribution, meaning CPS will receive $242 million less.

Under Rauner’s amendatory veto, CPS will still get $47 million more state funding than it did in 2017.

A more fair and equitable formula

The preferential subsidies taken away from CPS due to the governor’s amendatory veto were redistributed and had a marked impact on funding for the rest of the school districts across Illinois.

The fact that there are so many winners under the governor’s amendatory veto – 831 school districts would receive more state funds – shows how much districts across Illinois have been subsidizing Chicago for more than a decade.

By cutting preferential treatment for CPS out of the funding formula, the governor’s changes have restored a great measure of fairness and equity to state aid.


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