The Majority Report 01/31/16 - The state of education


The final week of January began with Senate President John Cullerton delivering a call for Gov. Bruce Rauner to prioritize school funding reform in Illinois and ended with news that President Barack Obama will appear before the General Assembly in Springfield next month.

In between, Democratic senators reacted to Gov. Rauner's second State of the State address and approved funding for college student aid and community colleges.

Read on to learn more.

Cullerton: School funding reform the defining crisis of our time

Cullerton: School funding reform the defining crisis of our timeSenate President John Cullerton called Illinois’ worst-in-the-nation school funding formula the defining crisis of our time last week 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 impass," 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."

Read more of what the Senate President had to say >
Watch a video of his presentation >
Read one of the Senate President's columns that appeared in newspapers statewide >


Senate Democrats vote to help Illinois college students (VIDEO)

Senate Democrats vote to help Illinois college students (VIDEO)Illinois is failing to live up to assurances it made to students who rely on MAP grants to afford college, Democratic lawmakers said in voting to fund the program.

Republican legislators objected to the measure, saying the state should work on a comprehensive budget solution rather than help desperate college students today.

"Critical funding will keep college students on the path toward completing their degrees," said Senator Donne Trotter, who leads one of the key budget committees. "I hope the governor stands with us to make college affordable and keep the doors open for our higher institutions of learning."

Gov. Rauner has said he intends to veto the legislation, which also passed in the House.

College access >


Caucus reacts to State of the State address (VIDEO)

Caucus reacts to State of the State address (VIDEO)

Democratic senators expressed doubt and confusion over Gov. Bruce Rauner's State of the State address, which outlined some of his ideas for 2016 but failed to acknowledge the gravity of the state budget stalemate and the upheaval it's causing in Illinois.

"I appreciate that the governor appeared to be more willing to compromise and work in a bipartisan fashion. However, it's just a speech. It did not get us any closer to a budget," said Chicago's Sen. Iris Martinez.

Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park noted that the governor reiterated his promise to improve the state's business climate but didn't note the effect the budget stalemate is having on the economy.

"Gov. Rauner's focus on economic development in Illinois is odd given that the budget impasse under his leadership is harming businesses and stifling economic growth faster than anything or anyone else ever could," Harmon said. "Passing a state budget must be the governor’s top priority. Without a budget, businesses will continue to view Illinois as a risky place to invest."

"Clearly there are numerous issues over which we disagree. But I'm going to focus on the few areas where there might be some agreement. That's the only way we're going to work our way out of this situation."

More reactions from senators >
Responses from Legislative Black Caucus >
Reaction from Legislative Latino Caucus >


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