Senate President John Cullerton on Monday called Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula the defining crisis of our time and challenged Gov. Bruce Rauner to turn around Illinois by making fair funding for schools his top priority.
Cullerton outlined the problems with Illinois’ school-funding formula during a sold-out speech at the City Club of Chicago, whose members include prominent civic, business and government leaders.
“Our students, parents, teachers and taxpayers are tired of the bickering, tired of the impasse,” Cullerton said. “They’re looking for leaders with the courage to step beyond the status quo and do what’s right. Today I’m asking my colleagues to take that step.”
Illinois has not updated its school funding formula since 1997. The system has resulted in striking inequities across Illinois’ school districts, rewarding wealthier communities and penalizing impoverished communities where students need more resources to succeed.
In addition, Illinois covers barely a third of the total cost of public education, while most states cover half.
As a result, the performance gap that divides rich and poor students, as well as students of color, ranks among the worst in the nation. Illinois is 42nd in terms of the gap in reading scores among these students, and it falls among the bottom 10 in the achievement gap between black and white students.
Cullerton said Illinois leaders must ask themselves two questions: How much are we going to spend on education, and how are we going to spend it?
“If the money isn’t going to help students in need, it doesn’t really matter how much we spend,” he said. “That’s why our funding formula needs to be overhauled.”
To level the playing field among schools, Cullerton said a new funding approach must include some key principles:
Cullerton noted that no one wants any school district to lose money. But in Illinois’ system of winning and losing school districts, there are far too many losers.
“There’s a reason why the current school funding formula has been in place for two decades. It’s hard to change an entrenched status quo. It requires true, dedicated leadership,” Cullerton said. “The question is whether today’s leaders are up to the task.”
Download the Senate President's City Club remarks Download the slides from the Senate President's presentation
SPRINGFIELD- It has been nearly six months since the four legislative leaders met with the governor to discuss a budget. That all changed yesterday, however, when the Senate President, Speaker of the House and Republican leaders in both chambers met with the governor to discuss the ongoing budget impasse.
The meeting was spurred in part by legislation co-sponsored by State Sen. Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) to require the governor and legislative leaders to meet weekly until a budget is agreed upon.
“The state of Illinois has been without a budget for over five months now. This meeting, while a good starting point, is far overdue. It is time to stop playing politics with Illinois communities and get to work to prevent even further damage,” Murphy said.
“Without a budget, local governments are being forced to choose between raising property taxes and laying off first responders. College students that would normally return to school in the spring will be forced to decide if they can still afford to attend without MAP grant funding. Refusing to work toward a compromise has a real and lasting impact on our families and communities.”
The meeting consisted of both public comments and a private meeting. While the budget was not resolved during the public portion, the legislative leaders did commit to further negotiations following the private meeting.
PLAINFIELD— State Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood) issued the following statement after today’s meeting between the governor and legislative leaders on the budget impasse:
“Today’s meeting was an important step. We’re not going to be able to compromise on tough issues and have a budget in place if the governor and leaders aren’t talking. I hope more meetings occur in the future. Concrete steps need to be taken to end this impasse as quickly as possible.”
SPRINGFIELD – After taking in the remarks stated before and after today’s closed-door leaders’ meeting, Senator Pat McGuire (D-Joliet) released the following statement:
"It's good news that the leaders will meet again,” McGuire said. “It's bad news that the Governor continues to ignore what life is like for the majority of Illinoisans. College students don't know if they'll be able to afford spring semester, local governments are waiting for their Motor Fuel Tax and gaming revenue, and non-profits that care for our most vulnerable are living from week to week. Despite all that, the Governor says redistricting and term limits are 'most important.' Let's hope he buckles down to budget work in upcoming meetings."
SPRINGFIELD – In response to the meeting Governor Bruce Rauner held with legislative leaders today, State Senator Bill Haine (D-Alton) released the following statement:
“I am happy to see this meeting happen. This is an important first step in getting a constructive dialogue going in order to compromise on tough issues. It is extremely important we take concrete steps to end this impasse. There is still much to be done to bring Illinois to its rightful place as a leader in manufacturing, agricultural production and shipping.
“Illinois has always been a leader in education and infrastructure, such as highways, bridges and levee repairs. We need to ensure that Illinois fights its way back into a leadership role in the industrial, financial and agricultural sectors. Our economic base is at stake and we need to get down to business. We need to deemphasize the agendas and move toward cooperation for the common good.”
SPRINGFIELD- Illinois has been without a budget for months, and the public’s patience is wearing thin. Following a meeting between the four legislative leaders and the governor Tuesday afternoon in Springfield to discuss the budget, state Senator William Delgado (D-Chicago) issued the following statement.
“Having a face-to-face meeting should bring about positive discussions and work us closer to a budget solution,” Delgado said. “I’ve said it before. People in my communities are suffering more and more with each passing day, and they’re wondering why meetings like this haven’t been happening for months.”
“If this proves to be even marginally productive, then meetings like this need to be held on a regular basis until our budget problem is solved. Let’s move our state forward,” said Delgado.
SPRINGFIELD — Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement about Tuesday's scheduled budget meeting between Illinois' legislative leaders and Gov. Bruce Rauner:
"For the first time in more than six months, Gov. Bruce Rauner will convene a meeting with Illinois’ four legislative leaders on Tuesday.
It's easy to be cynical about such a meeting — painfully easy, in fact. But as we enter the sixth month of the fiscal year with no budget in sight, those of us who are focused on the devastating human consequences of this situation need to hold on to whatever hope we can find.
This prolonged situation has already inflicted untold harm by destroying the state’s vital human services network, by worsening its already bleak financial picture and by marring its fiscal reputation so severely that it will take years to recover.
The damage is evidenced each time a human services provider closes its doors, each time a teenager has nowhere to go to be safe after school and each time a family is turned away for counseling services.
All of this is happening because Gov. Rauner has steadfastly refused to negotiate about the budget until the General Assembly capitulates to his demands to enact a radical anti-worker agenda. The fact of the matter is that this agenda can't pass because a majority of legislators simply don't think support his ideas. That's how democracy works — and Gov. Rauner will only get his way by convincing those of us who disagree with his ideas to change our minds, not by taking innocent hostages.
It’s time for Gov. Rauner to end the stalemate and start negotiating with the state’s elected lawmakers. Illinois needs a budget now. Everything else, including the governor’s anti-worker agenda, must wait."
(CHICAGO)—State Senator Bill Cunningham, who represents portions of Worth, Orland and Palos Townships in the southwest suburbs and the neighborhoods of Mt. Greenwood, Beverly, Morgan Park and Auburn-Gresham in Chicago, released the following statement on the leaders' meeting set for December 1:
“I am glad a meeting is finally occurring, but what we need now is substantial progress,” said Senator Cunningham. “I hope the governor comes to the table with every intention of bringing together a common-sense proposal that puts Illinois back on the path to financial security without sacrificing critical programs. I am glad there is a meeting but at this point we need more than just meetings.”
State Senator Forby (D-Benton) toured several rehabilitation and healthcare facilities to discuss the consequences Southern Illinois faces if Governor Rauner doesn’t work with legislators to pass a budget. Senator Forby listened to suggestions from the community affected by the budget so he can bring their recommendations to Springfield.
“Governor Rauner is holding the budget process hostage in exchange for proposals in his wage-killing turnaround agenda,” Senator Forby said.
SPRINGFIELD – At a time when the public increasingly wonders whether the governor and legislative leaders are meeting to try to resolve Illinois’ budget crisis, State Senator Julie Morrison (D – Deerfield) held a press conference today to introduce a proposal she hopes will prod those leaders to the negotiating table.
The measure, Senate Bill 2190, would require the governor and the four legislative leaders to meet publicly at least once per week to negotiate on the budget whenever the state enters a new fiscal year without a spending plan in place.
SPRINGFIELD — Today, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago) met with students from the University of Illinois-Chicago, who were participating in Illinois Public University Student Lobby Day. Senator Van Pelt and students discussed various higher education funding issues.
Senator Van Pelt, earlier this summer, was one of 37 Senators who voted to pass Senate Bill 2043, appropriating $373 million in general revenue funds for MAP grants. The bill is currently in House Rules Committee.
“MAP grant funding is absolutely essential for students throughout state, who may not be able to fully fund their education,” Senator Van Pelt said. “I have and will continue to support MAP grant funding, as well as other alternatives to assist with funding, such as The American Opportunity Tax Credit and The Lifetime Learning Credit.”
Earlier this year, Senator Van Pelt joined US Congressman Danny K. Davis (D) in encouraging current and future students to look into a variety of tax break options available to ease the financial burden of higher education. Together they launched #TaxBreaks4Students campaign, designed to highlight the programs available to those paying for higher education.
SPRINGFIELD— Sen. Pat McGuire (D-Crest Hill) joined a majority of his Senate colleagues in voting to prevent a shutdown of services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, intellectual disabilities and mental illness. The Senate passed SB 2046 by a vote of 36-19, the bare minimum of “Yes” votes needed. All “Yes” votes were cast by Democrats.
“While 90 percent of the state budget is effectively enacted, the stalled 10 percent is needed by organizations such as Cornerstone and Trinity Services to continue providing absolutely necessary services,” McGuire said. “I’ve been advocating for legislative action to help the children and adults who desperately need this help. This week’s Senate action is the important first step in doing so.”
SB 2046 seeks to fund autism programs, early intervention services for infants with developmental delays, supportive housing for persons with disabilities, and other services not funded via court orders or consent decrees. The legislation now moves to the House. If it is approved there, it goes to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his approval.
“I beseech the governor to end the distress uncertain funding is causing people already beset with numerous physical and mental challenges,” McGuire said.
SPRINGFIELD — Today, Senate Majority Caucus Whip Iris Y. Martinez (D-Chicago) joined members of the Latino Caucus at a hearing regarding how the absence of a state budget is impacting Latino-serving providers and their clients.
“We heard riveting testimony about how the lack of a state budget is impacting Latinos,” Martinez said. “I am troubled by what I heard today. The governor needs to focus on solving the state’s budget impasse so that human service providers helping our children, seniors, the disabled and other vulnerable populations can stay in business.”
Martinez provided introductory remarks at the hearing, which featured testimony from representatives of Gads Hill Center, Latino Organization of the Southwest, La Casa Norte, El Valor, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Corazon Community Services and other organizations.
Senator Martinez’s participation in today’s hearing is part of a broader effort she is undertaking to help Latinos. This year, she encouraged Latinos to become blood donors and discussed the importance of Latinos being adequately represented in state government.
Martinez has also spoken out about the necessity of the state funding Welcoming Centers, which serve as lifelines to our state’s newest residents by offering classes and providing information on topics such as employment training and home ownership.
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