An effort to push a partisan plan to strip suburban schools of most of their state funding is accelerating, State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R- St. Charles) warned today. McConnaughay’s remarks came following a Sept. 29 press conference by the architect of a new school funding formula (Senate Bill 16) that would cost local schools millions of dollars in state funding. McConnaughay said its becoming clear Democrat lawmakers plan to continue to target suburban schools and students in the push to rewrite the state school funding formula.
“Despite Republican efforts, Democrats have continued to push a plan that significantly harms some of the state’s best schools and threatens suburban property taxpayers,” said Sen. McConnaughay. “Redistributing wealth only creates new ‘winners’ and ‘losers’—doing nothing to build statewide support for education funding reform. It is imperative that we go back to the drawing board and work collaboratively across the aisle to develop legislation that improves the funding formula for all involved stakeholders.”
Senator McConnaughay plans to hold a public forum on October 7 to inform suburban residents of the impact that Senate Bill 16 will have on suburban schools and property tax rates. Visit Senator McConnaughay’s website for more information.
In the Sept. 29 press conference, State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) insinuated there has been an open dialogue on how to improve equitability in the state’s school aid formula, while also indicating that successfully addressing inequalities in the system will require “everybody to have a seat at the table.” However, as a member of the Education Funding Advisory Committee (EFAC), McConnaughay pointed out Republican lawmakers continue to be cut out of the process when it comes to Senate Bill 16.
“Senator Manar is playing it fast and loose with the facts. Republican lawmakers never had a seat at the table in drafting of Senate Bill 16. And now we’ve learned that education funding is being discussed in secret meetings organized by the House Speaker Mike Madigan with, again, no input from the Republican members of the EFAC committee or any other Republican legislators,” said Sen. McConnaughay, who emphasized the proposed legislation would radically redistribute what little funding most suburban schools receive from the state, and essentially asks local property tax payers to subsidize other districts.
During his press conference, Manar acknowledged difficulties in the debate on how much to put into the formula saying “…why would a legislator who knows that driving more money into a broken formula knows that it’ll never get to his or her school district, why would they say, ‘Let’s go spend more.’”
“Senator Manar actually made a great case against his legislation, which would strip suburban school districts of almost all of their state money,” said Sen. McConnaughay. “It is already difficult to build a consensus among suburban legislators for increased school funding when they know that their local school districts receive almost no benefit under the current formula; making that formula even more unfair to suburban schools is hardly a good strategy for building statewide support for education funding.”
According to Sen. McConnaughay, schools in her district, like Geneva 304, are already funded almost entirely from local property taxes. Geneva 304 is currently funded 90.7% by local property taxes. Under Senate Bill 16 they lose 79.9% of what little state funding they receive for education, taking resources away from students and placing additional burdens on local taxpayers. Additionally, it means that to maintain current funding levels property taxpayers would be on the hook to make up that difference.
After drawing attention to the inequities in the state’s school funding formula in their March 2012 report, “School Funding in Illinois: An Examination,” Senate Republicans have continued to offer specific suggestions on how to infuse greater parity into the system. McConnaughay says everyone needs to be at the table when addressing how the state can improve equitability in the school aid formula.
Democrats passed Senate Bill 16 in the Senate on May 27. It is currently being held in the House of Representatives. There is a real threat it will be revived in the lame duck veto session this fall. Sen. McConnaughay joins several Republican legislators working to stop Senate Bill 16 before it has a detrimental impact on schools statewide.