To The Herald-Whig:
With little over a month before the start of a new school year, and despite a new state budget being enacted earlier this month, state funding for public schools is still in question -- placing some schools in serious jeopardy of not opening on time.
The fiscal 2018 state budget that was recently enacted includes a provision that ties an overwhelming majority of state school funding to an evidence-based funding model. However, Democratic legislators are using a procedural maneuver to keep Senate Bill 1 from advancing. Gov. Bruce Rauner cannot take action on the measure.
In other words, Democrats are preventing schools from getting their state funding by playing political games with a new formula that is required by law before money can be directed to school districts.
This issue goes far beyond partisan politics. It's about our students who deserve to go to school and receive a quality education. Our school districts need their school funding now.
Senate Bill 1 is not perfect in its current form, and I voted against it. However, if the Senate Democrats would release their procedural hold on the measure, the governor can take action and make school funding more equitable for all Illinois school districts.
The governor intends to issue an amendatory veto that will remove hundreds of millions of dollars that are unfairly directed to Chicago Public Schools. As a result, Senate Bill 1 will provide more adequate and equitable funding for all Illinois students, no matter their ZIP code.
The next move is in the hands of my Senate Democrat counterparts. I encourage my superintendents, school board members, teachers and even students to advocate the release of Senate Bill 1 so Gov. Rauner can act on it, and lawmakers can return to Springfield as soon as possible to work on this highly critical issue.
The doors to our schools need to open on time. Our schools are one of our greatest resources, and our job as public servants is to secure school funding and ensure that every student in Illinois has access to education. It is not too late, but the time to take action draws closer with every passing day.
It's time for Democrats to stop playing games with the future of Illinois schools and send Senate Bill 1 to the governor's desk so that he can make necessary changes to it so schools can start their academic year fully and equitably funded.
Sen. Jil Tracy