State education committee can’t get on track

Illinois’ newest school-funding commission has two meetings under its belt, but has yet to even agree on what to talk about.

State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Raymond, a member of the legislative task force, said it’s going to be tough enough to meet Gov. Bruce Rauner’s February deadline to devise a new formula, but she’s more confident there will be something to vote on by the end of May.

Bourne also said there’s no way that lawmakers can change both how and how much Illinois pays for schools at the same time.

“We’re still trying to build consensus around what we’re going to build this formula off,” Bourne said. “We’re not starting from any particular bill that’s been introduced in the House. We’re not starting based off any study that’s been done.”

The new funding commission met last week, but Bourne said it didn’t make much progress.

Bourne said lawmakers eventually will need to talk about how much the state pays for schools.

“We have to pinpoint that we’re talking about the formula. If we make it too broad, we won’t make progress,” Bourne said of this summer’s meetings. “We also have to talk about what’s the adequate amount for every student, but I think the revenue side and the amount are a separate discussion for a budgetary committee.”

Bourne said talking about how much Illinois pays for schools, and where that money comes from, opens the door to much tougher conversations about taxes, collective-bargaining reform, and school choice. That could derail the committee’s goal.

–Illinois News Network

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