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Cost Shift Doc

Cost Shift Doc

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Published by Ann Weiler
Cost Shift Doc
Cost Shift Doc

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Published by: Ann Weiler on Mar 13, 2013
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07/10/2013

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 About that ‘Free Lunch
 Achieving air, meaningul and constitutionally-sound pension reorm remains one o the mostdifcult challenges acing our state. In theIllinois Senate, there is clearly a sincere desireby members o both political parties to reacha consensus that will protect and preserveessential state services, while also assuring thefnancial security o retired teachers and otherpublic employees.Given the tremendous challenge we ace,there is no reason to make it more difcult byinterjecting additional complicated issues intothe pension reorm debate.One proposed “reorm” measure—and theone most likely to derail any resolution—hassparked a misleading regional battle over statecontributions to downstate and suburban retiredteacher pension unds.Some lawmakerspropose shiting thecosts or local schooland university employeepensions rom the stateto their employers. Theyargue those employersset the salaries thatdetermine the pensions.But they do notacknowledge that theIllinois General Assemblysets all the benefts—including retirement age,cost-o-living-adjustmentsand contribution levels—that have a signifcantimpact on pensionpayouts and the growthin ununded liabilities.Some lawmakers, including House SpeakerMichael Madigan, try to sell it as a matter o education airness. The Speaker has termedthe contributions a “ree lunch.” This rhetoricis misleading, divisive and derisive—hardlythe kind o discourse designed to ostercompromise and resolution.
School Funding in Illinois – AnExamination
Rather than respond in kind, SenateRepublicans have examined the state’s systemo school unding to determine i the currentdistribution o resources is air and equitable, ori it is instead skewed toward one region or evenone school district.The unavoidable conclusion is that, i there areree lunches being handed out to schools inIllinois, the portions are indeed inequitable. Butnot in the way portrayed by others.
 
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In act, i downstate and suburban schooldistricts are receiving a “ree lunch,” it is onthe order o a “kid’s meal.” In contrast, thoughChicago Public Schools enroll roughly 18% o Illinois’ public schoolchildren, the state has been“super sizing” their value meal.Through a variety o special considerations andcases, the Chicago Public Schools actuallyreceive nearly $800 million in “ree lunch money”that is not available to their counterparts insuburban and downstate Illinois.The net result is a signifcant budget disparitythat treats Illinois’ schoolchildren dierentlysimply based on where they happen to live. Apreschool child in a downstate school districtwill receive ewer education service dollarsrom the state than the child would in Chicago. A developmentally-disabled child living in asuburban community will receive less unding orhis education rom the state than would a similarchild in Chicago.Perhaps most unair o all, an impoverished childin Edwardsville must be educated or barely 15%o the state support available to a needy childin Chicago living under comparable economiccircumstances.
Why This Examination is Important
It is not the intent o the Senate RepublicanCaucus to ignite a regional war over schoolunding airness. The goal is not to pull thefnancial rug out rom under the Chicago PublicSchools—we recognize that all school districtsin Illinois are acing difcult fnancial challenges.We simply want to provide a balanced picture o where unding equity stands today. An honest, objective review o school undingpolicies in our state is long overdue. Illinoiscontinues to distribute school unds usingoutdated ormulas, with at least one datingback to the 1970s. The state should undertakea thorough examination o how we divide upthe dollars that go to our schools. We wouldwelcome such a discussion.However, the urgency to fx the state’s retirementsystem unding is too great to risk having thosereorms get bogged down in a protracteddebate over school unding airness – even i thediscussion is long overdue.
Six Areas of Funding
State support o school unding in Illinois allsunder six general categories:
•
Foundation Level Grants;
•
PTELL (Property Tax Extension LimitationLaw) Adjustments;
•
Corporate Personal Property TaxReplacement Grants;
•
Poverty Grants;
•
Special Education Grants; and
•
Early Childhood Education Grants. A brie look at each o these categories revealshistorical trends and ormula anomalies thatsteer extra dollars to the Chicago Public Schoolsystem and away rom downstate and suburbanschools.
Foundation Level Grants
 Arguably, the Foundation Level Grant is the mostequitable and air ormula distribution in thestate. Its purpose is to assure that all schoolshave access to a basic “oundation” level o support deemed necessary to educate a child inIllinois.It is a resource “equalizer,” which takes intoaccount the property wealth o school districtsand attempts to even out or equalize the unding

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