Last summer, Illinois lawmakers passed, and the Governor signed, historic school funding reform. Prior to voting on the new funding formula in August, the State Board of Education (ISBE) produced a model of how the new law would impact school funding and distributed it to the public. Many lawmakers used this model to help them make a determination of whether to support the new formula.
After the new formula was enacted
, ISBE determined that their model was not accurate. As a result, during the fall veto session, the General Assembly passed a trailer bill (Senate Bill 444) to the school funding reform law that ISBE claimed made changes to the underlying formula so the initial modeling for the new formula matched up with the bill that was passed last summer by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor.
This action was unprecedented in terms of school funding; typically lawmakers receive a model of the bill as it was enacted, rather than changing the enacted bill to match the modeling.
Six days after Senate Bill 444 passed the General Assembly, ISBE released a model displaying the impact Senate Bill 444 would have on districts. According to that model, most school districts in the state fare much better if the General Assembly was to make no changes to the formula and law. Said differently, most school districts in the state “lose” money if Senate Bill 444 is enacted. A comparison document prepared by Senate Republican staff can be found here.
While unfortunate that ISBE pointed out the discrepancy following Senate Bill 444’s approval, recently, Governor Bruce Rauner issued an Amendatory Veto (AV) to SB 444. Though the AV has no impact on changes proposed to the formula by Senate Bill 444, the Governor’s action gives the General Assembly another chance to evaluate Senate Bill 444 with accurate school district numbers at their disposal.
It is anticipated that lawmakers will judge Senate Bill 444 on its own merits when the General Assembly returns to Springfield. Though some have incorrectly suggested that implementation of the evidence based formula is in jeopardy if Senate Bill 444 isn’t enacted, ISBE has told staff that “implementation of the new funding law will occur regardless of SB 444” and they will “allocate tier funding based on the law as written.”
In other words, whether or not SB 444 is enacted, the new evidence based funding model will be implemented.