Illinois House approves school bill on 2nd try


Illinois Legislature.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _  The Illinois House has approved a new school funding plan on a second attempt, minutes after lawmakers failed to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s changes to a separate plan preferred by teacher unions.

Lawmakers voted 73-34 Monday to send the legislation to the Senate. A vote could occur in that chamber as early as Tuesday.

The measure increases funding for school districts and distributes the money in a way lawmakers say is more equitable. It also provides $75 million for tax credis for people who donate to private school scholarships.

Teacher unions opposed the tax credit, and many lawmakers said it was the reason they voted no on the measure Monday afternoon. But after they were unable to override the changes Rauner made last month on the other legislation, the new bill was called again and passed.

Lawmakers in the Illinois House have tried unsuccessfully to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s changes to a school funding overhaul.

Supporters needed 71 yes votes to approve the legislation over Rauner’s objections. Monday’s vote garnered 63 yes votes.

The vote came shortly after lawmakers failed to approve a separate school funding plan hailed as a bipartisan compromise between legislative leaders. The House could take up that measure, which also provided tax credits for people who donate to private school scholarships, again Monday night.

At stake is state aid for more than 800 districts that haven’t received payments this academic year. While district officials say they’re able to open on time, many are worried they won’t be able to keep classrooms open if a deal isn’t approved soon.

An education funding overhaul has failed in the Illinois House, leaving money for more than 800 districts uncertain.

Lawmakers voted 46-61 Monday on a plan that would have provided general state aid to districts for the first time this academic year. The measure needed 71 yes votes.

Legislators have been unable to agree on a way to fund schools. The plan debated Monday was hammered out by legislative leaders in closed-door meetings. It would’ve increased money for all districts and created a $75 million tax credit program for people who donate to private school scholarships.

Many Democrats and some Republicans opposed the tax credit. Other lawmakers said the measure was a “bailout” for Chicago schools and spent moey Illinois doesn’t have.

Lawmakers were meeting in private Monday night to try to determine next steps.

Lawmakers in the Illinois House are debating a plan to overhaul the way the state funds schools.

The bipartisan measure would provide general state funding for more than 800 school districts for the first time this academic year, using a formula that prioritizes money for the neediest districts and increases funding for all districts.

The bill introduced Monday also provides $75 million in tax credits for people who make donations to private school scholarship funds and allows Chicago to increase property taxes by $120 million to help pay teacher pension costs.

Some lawmakers are balking at the tax credit, saying it takes money from public schools. Others say the legislation spends money Illinois doesn’t have.

Republican Rep. Peter Breen says the measure will “end the uncertainty” for districts waiting for funding.

A proposal to overhaul the way Illinois funds schools would provide $75 million per year in tax credits for people who contribute to private school scholarships.

Legislative leaders have been meeting privately to negotiate a bipartisan deal for distributing state aid to more than 800 school districts. The House is expected to vote on it Monday.

The legislation filed Monday provides a tax credit worth 75 percent of a taxpayer’s annual contributions to a scholarship fund, with a maximum credit of $1 million annually. The money may be donated to a specific school, but not to a specific student.

Students receiving the scholarships must have a total household income of less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

Teacher unions oppose the tax credit.

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