08132017CM1129 rSPRINGFIELD – Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) voted today in favor of legislation overhauling Illinois’ broken school funding formula and replacing it with an evidence-based model.

“We took a historic step today to reform our state’s worst-in-the-nation school funding formula,” Harmon said. “The new model will discontinue the current system of winners and losers and ensure that every student has equal access at a high-quality education.”

The measure that passed in the Senate today on a 38-13 vote is based on Senate Bill 1, which passed both Houses in May and was vetoed by the governor in July.

Under the legislation:

•    No school districts would lose funding.
•    Funding would be distributed on a per-district basis, not a per-pupil basis.
•    Initial funding would be based on FY17 disbursement levels. It would increase from that point year over year as school districts get closer to reaching their adequacy targets.
•    The Chicago Public Schools block grant would be repealed, but CPS would be held harmless like every other school district so that it would not lose funding as a result of the change.
•    $350 million in new K-12 state funding for this schoolyear would be distributed to districts using a tier system that prioritizes districts farthest from adequacy.
•    School districts and their boards will have certainty each year about how much state funding they can expect to receive, which will make budgeting easier and more effective.

The measure also includes a Republican-backed tax credit scholarship program that would award a 75-percent tax credit of up to $1 million to any taxpayer who contributes scholarship funding for students to attend private or parochial schools.

Although Harmon opposes the tax credit, he said he strongly supports the measure as a much-needed change to Illinois’ school funding formula.

“In years to come, we will know that we voted for a transformational event in Illinois education policy,” Harmon said.

Senate Bill 1947 passed both Houses and now awaits the governor’s signature.