Sauer Reacts to Historic School Funding Reform Compromise

Earlier this week, the Illinois House of Representatives passed historic legislation to reform Illinois’ broken K-12 school funding formula. State Representative Nick Sauer (R-Lake Barrington) said the passage of House Floor Amendment 5 to Senate Bill 1947 shows what can be accomplished when negotiation and compromise are able to create consensus.

“For too many years, Illinois’ students have been subjected to the most inequitable school funding model in the nation,” said Sauer. “Through embracing bipartisan compromise and utilizing extensive research, this evidence-based funding model establishes historic funding for all 852 school districts in Illinois to ensure all students receive a high quality education.

“Under this compromise, there are no special deals for one district over another and, perhaps even more important, it will reduce constraints on local school officials, parents and residents. Our local school officials will be empowered with greater flexibility to adjust state mandated curriculum to meet the needs of their community and parents will have greater determination over their child’s education through more equitable charter school funding. These changes, coupled with giving residents the direct ability to reduce their property taxes through referendum, will lead to a more effective and efficient education system.”

The compromise contains long overdue reform to provide local school districts with relief from costly unfunded state mandates, which often drive up local costs of education. The relief will empower local school officials the flexibility to adjust their curriculum in regards to physical education and driver’s education. In addition, the waiver process that allows school districts to seek relief from other unfunded state mandates has also been streamlined to dramatically expedite a process that previously required action by the full General Assembly. This relief will provide school districts with much needed ability to reduce arbitrary or unnecessary costs.

Beyond the cost savings to local school districts through unfunded mandate relief, the compromise also contains a critical property tax reform component. The evidence-based funding model creates a funding adequacy structure, which is how much money a district needs to educate each student. If a school district is funded at more than 110% of its adequacy target, local residents will have the ability via referendum to reduce the property tax levy by as much as 10% of the previous levy year. This property tax reform component will give power directly to local residents to curb excessive reliance on local property taxes to fund schools.

Sauer said the compromise also contains to two critical school choice features that empower low and middle income families. Funding for charter schools will be brought into roughly 100% parity so every child will be treated fairly according to their parent’s educational choice. Additionally, the compromise creates a private school scholarship tax credit to incentivize private investment in scholarship programs to generate more opportunities for low and middle income parents to send their child to a higher performing school.

“While no legislative compromise is perfect, this historic reform creates a more fair and realistic approach to funding our K-12 education system, provides much needed stability to a broken model and creates a structure to reduce reliance on local property taxpayers,” concluded Sauer.

The Illinois Senate approved the school funding reform measure on Tuesday and Governor Rauner is scheduled to sign the legislation into law later today.

For additional information concerning House Floor Amendment 5 to Senate Bill 1947, Click Here. The Illinois State Board of Education also makes analysis information available, Click Here.

Residents may also contact Rep. Sauer’s office at (847) 984-2485 with questions or concerns for this or any other state issue.

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