Recently, the Illinois General Assembly voted to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto to legislation designed to pave the way for the implementation of S.B. 1947, the massive education funding law passed last fall designed to aid the neediest school districts and improve educational equity in the State. Governor Rauner’s purpose in vetoing the bill was to expand the list of private schools that qualify for the “Invest in Kids” tax credit scholarship. Concerned substantively about this change and the delay in might cause to implementation of the funding formula, the General Assembly took swift action with the House voting 90-18 and the Senate voting 38-17 to override the amendatory veto. While this override is vital to the success of the new law, the fight over education funding is not over yet.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), the state agency tasked with calculating the amount of funds that school districts across the state will receive under the new law, has indicated that additional “trailer” legislation may be necessary to address and correct approximately twenty (20) discrepancies between the language and the legislative intent of the larger funding law. ISBE is pushing to address these discrepancies so that ISBE can ensure that its calculations for disbursement match the projections of district disbursements that the General Assembly relied on when voting on the bill.
As it stands, ISBE and law makers continue to work through additional tweaks to the new law with an eye toward disbursement of new funds in April of this year. As this process unfolds, tension is growing between the two entities due to the delay of the long-awaited rollout of the evidenced-based funding model. This tension between legislators and ISBE is compounded by ISBE’s recent $15.7 billion state budget request, double what K-12 school districts received in years past. Further, politics continues to play a role in the General Assembly’s response to the proposed revisions, with each party asserting that the other is proposing substantive changes that will alter fundamental aspects of the new law. ISBE is also getting swept up in this debate as legislators question the state agency’s role in advocating for changes. Stay tuned as this legislative saga over education funding continues.