Rep. Cavaletto Working for Better Funding for His Downstate School Districts Without Chicago Bailout

 State Representative John Cavaletto (R-Salem), a member of the Cost Benefit Analysis Committee, is not happy with the last minute changes to a new school funding formula bill that bails out Chicago schools and short-changes the students in his district. Passing with the bare minimum number of votes, this bill now goes to the governor for consideration.

“I do not like that our students are short-changed and the Chicago schools would receive a disproportionate amount than our kids deserve downstate,” said Rep. John Cavaletto. “I did not feel comfortable supporting Senate Bill 1 in its current form,” he added.

The legislature has debated the issue of school funding reform for a number of years, including this past legislative session. Many believe that we need a more equitable school funding formula in Illinois that lessens our reliance on local property taxes while providing that the State make education a higher priority. Right now, Illinois only provides 24% of total education spending.

The political games that were played during the last two days of the Spring Session did not provide for reasonable and adequate education reform for ALL Illinois students. Legislators have been engaged in bi-partisan talks with the advocates of the funding reform model for months. But the advocates pushed their own version of the legislation at the last minute that would send almost $500 million more of our tax dollars to Chicago with nothing in return for our local school districts. We must fix this inequity.

In addition, Illinois has not had a full budget in two years. This school funding reform proposal requires $350 million in new money even though the State cannot afford to pay schools for current year programs. SB 1 would allocate the monies at a 70% - 30% ratio with 70% for Chicago that has only 23% of the students. The Illinois Education Association (IEA) was not a proponent of this bill which says a lot about an advocacy group that is never silent on legislation that impacts teachers.

“I will continue to work with my colleagues to develop a new formula to provide an equitable and adequate education for all two million students in Illinois public schools, not just a select few,” concluded Cavaletto. “We have the ability to accomplish this historic feat soon, but we must all work together to do so without political games that continue to be played in Springfield.”

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