Dale Righter

Illinois State Senator | 55th District


Senator Righter's "Two Minute Drill": A review of education funding in Illinois

Friday, March 15, 2013

In my most recent Two Minute Drill video blog I discuss an issue that is very important to me, and which I know is very important to many of you: the crisis in education funding.

Over the last decade we’ve seen the state direct less money and fewer resources to public education, as more taxpayer dollars are allocated to finance Medicaid and other public assistance programs. Knowing this, I was particularly concerned by the budget proposal recently outlined by Gov. Pat Quinn which would make substantial reductions to state funding for Illinois’ public schools.

In an effort to gain additional insight into the state’s system of school funding, the Senate Republican Caucus recently did some “homework” of our own--undertaking a thorough review of data provided by the Illinois State Board of Education to learn more about the state’s distribution of education resources.

What we found was that though the Chicago Public School system may bear a slightly higher financial burden for the cost of their teacher pension payments, those obligations are offset many times over by other components of school funding.

A thorough review of the data showed that even though Chicago Public Schools (CPS) account for roughly 18% of Illinois’ public schoolchildren, CPS receives $722 million more than it would under a fair distribution of state funding. In contrast, the downstate and suburban schools that educate 82 percent of Illinois’ students receive substantially less – a subsidy valued at about $104 million.

The net result? A significant budget disparity that treats Illinois’ schoolchildren differently simply based on where they happen to live.

The Senate Republican Caucus sought to provide a balanced picture of where funding equity stands today. You can find the results in the Caucus report: “School Funding in Illinois: An Examination,” and be sure to watch the latest edition of the Two Minute Drill for my take on education funding and what Illinois needs to do to get back on track.

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