VIDEO: Illinois State Board of Education asks for $874 million funding increase
3 months, 4 weeks ago By Benjamin Yount, Illinois Watchdog
ISBE makes 13.4 percent increase recommendation to legislature
Video from watchdog.org
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois can either pay for students to learn or for teachers to retire. The state cannot afford both.
Illinois’ appointed State Board of Education on Thursday asked lawmakers to pay for learning. The state board approved a nearly $5-billion budget request that would fully fund education for the first time in Illinois since 2011.
There’s is little chance Illinois schools will get any more money. In fact, Chico should actually expect less.
“The state board should get in on the reality of the world,” said state Rep John Bradley, D-Marion.
Bradley runs the powerful House Revenue Committee, and it is his job to set a spending cap for the new state budget.
Bradley said Illinois’ pension debt and other unpaid bills will make it impossible to spend more on schools.
“We have a pension payment that will go up $1 billion. We have $2.3 billion in employee health insurance claims. We have another $8 billion to $9 billion in unpaid bills,” Bradley said. “We are going to have to figure out how to cut a billion dollars from operations to make end meet.”
Bradley set the spending cap for the current budget at $33.2 billion. Illinois schools received $4.2 billion for education. Illinois’ pension payment was just over $6 billion.
“We are upside down, and things are getting worse,” said Bradley.
State Rep. Will Davis, D-Homewood, said he will show those numbers to any teachers who comes to the statehouse this spring to ask for more money for their classrooms.
“You can’t have it both ways,” Davis said Thursday. “As a teacher you want to have your pension fully funded. But you also want all of the resources for your school.”
Davis has not backed Bradley and the House spending cap, and said he is unlikely to support the cap this year, despite being in charge of crafting the K-12 education budget in Illinois.
“I think education funding should be a priority and command the appropriate resources,” he said.
Illinois lawmakers return to the statehouse at the end of month to begin the budget process.
Bradley said the numbers are stacked against the $5-billion budget request from the State Board of Education.
“If we have to cut $1 billion from operations, and education is 40 percent of operations, that’s nearly $400 million,” Bradley added.
Davis said he would rather see lawmakers help local schools capture as much local money as they can. He expects to see new legislation dealing with local tax caps or local school referendum questions.
Chico with the state board said, in the end, lawmakers are going to make a moral judgment with the fiscal decisions.