Illinois education bill passes state legislature

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -  Illinois lawmakers have likely ended the state's school funding crisis after the Senate passed a compromise education funding plan on a 38-13 vote Tuesday.

Almost every senator who spoke on the floor used the word "compromise" to describe the deal. All senators voting in favor of the legislation admitted they would have to vote for several provisions they did not like to bring the funding fight to an end. The state has missed all of its aid payments to districts in August because education funding in the current year is contingent upon passage of a new "evidence-based" funding formula.

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) was one of the chief architects of the new formula. Manar said he drove by dozens of children boarding the bus on his way to Springfield Tuesday morning.

"Is this bill going to help those children that I saw this morning? The answer is absolutely," Manar said.

​The compromise was hammered out in the last week by the four legislative leaders after it appeared lawmakers didn't have the votes to override the changes Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner had made to a bill known as Senate Bill 1 through an amendatory veto.

Republicans who voted for this proposal had to vote to send more than $200 million to Chicago Public Schools to cover teacher pensions -- which Rauner had labeled a "Chicago bailout."

Many Democrats had to vote for a new $75 million tax credit program that will allow Illinoisans to claim a 75-cent on every dollar tax credit for donations to private school scholarships.

Several metro east superintendents drove to Springfield Tuesday and cheered the vote.

Bethalto CUSD #8 Superintendent Dr. Jill Griffin told Fox 2 News she would have had to close the doors next month without any state funding flowing to her district.

“For far too long, too many low-income students in our state have been trapped in underfunded, failing schools," Rauner said in a statement. "The system needed to change. We have changed it. We have put aside our differences and put our kids first. It's a historic day for Illinois.

Rauner shook hands with lawmakers after the vote and has indicated he will sign the proposal.

There is no word yet on how State Comptroller Susana Mendoza would start cutting checks and making up payments to districts once Rauner signs the proposal.

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