Belleville school district hopes the Gov. Rauner and legislature can break budget deadlock

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BELLEVILLE, IL (KTVI) – Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner will deliver the third budget address of his term Wednesday, hoping to break an almost two-year deadlock with the legislature.

An end to that budget battle is something local school districts like Belleville Township High School District 201 have been waiting for.

Rauner paid a visit to the district on Feb. 7, and while administrators and teachers were excited to have their school recognized, they also spoke out about the budget battles in Springfield.

Social Studies Teacher Cyndi Oberle-Dahm said state leaders need a civics lesson.

"I would tell them that it's their constitutional duty to come up with a balanced budget and it's not something they can put off any longer," Oberle-Dahm said.

Lawmakers sign off on full funding for districts like Belleville Township High 201, but Superintendent Jeff Dosier said he can never count on it.

"The problem comes when the budgets are made and we've been told that we are going to get full funding and we don't get timely payments," Dosier said.

If the state wanted to get current with the district, it would have to write a check for about $5 million. Dating back to 2010, the state owes $1.7 million in back payouts to the district and is behind by $3 million in the current budget year.

Rauner said he will share his thoughts Wednesday on the so-called “grand bargain” the Senate has been working on, a 12-bill package containing fixes like an income tax hike, a property tax freeze and a new school funding formula.

Oberle-Dahm and Dosier said a simple bargain would be nice.

"What we just want to see happen is that the governor and legislature can work together to get a budget for the State of Illinois, we want to see fully funded general state aid," Dosier said.

"Our school district alone, we're three million dollars behind just for this year,” Oberle-Dahm said. “That's not adequate funding for our students."

Rauner is expected to deliver his budget address at noon Wednesday.

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