Illinois House fails to overhauling education funding

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Illinois Legislature.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Education funding overhaul fails in the Illinois House, leaving money for more than 800 districts uncertain.

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 tovote 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.

Top Republicans in the Illinois Legislature say they expect the House to vote Monday on a school-funding overhaul.

Republican and Democratic leaders have had days of closed-door meetings aimed at negotiating a bipartisan deal that would send state funds to more than 800 public school districts for the first time this school year.

GOP Rep. Jim Durkin says the plan will increase money for every district and provide a tax credit to people who donate to private school scholarships. Democratic leaders haven’t commented.

Some of Illinois’ largest teacher unions are urging legislators to reject the measure.

Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery says Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner is using students “as leverage for private school tax credits.” He says “taxpayer dollars should be invested in our public school classrooms.”

Illinois legislative leaders say they’re still working out final details of a plan to fund the state’s public schools.

Bipartisan leaders have been meeting behind closed doors for days, with the Illinois House expected to get a first look at the plan Monday when they convene.

Few details have been publicly released aside from Republicans saying it increases funding for districts and contains a proposal to provide tax credits for those who donate to private school scholarships.

Republicans are calling it a “win-win” but Democrats declined to commet after a two-hour Sunday meeting at the Capitol.

The budget lawmakers approved last month requires a new formula for schools to get money. Both parties agree the 20-year-old calculation Illinois currently uses is unfair, but they can’t agree on an overhaul.

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