Area Lawmakers Comment on Passage of School Funding Bill
Southern Illinois senators Dale Fowler and Paul Schimpf split their votes on the education funding plan approved by lawmakers.
Schimpf voted for the plan, despite some reservations. The Waterloo republican says the bill isn't perfect, but good enough, especially considering the dire circumstances some schools in his district were facing.
"I've been in pretty frequent contact with my superintendents and I had a couple of school districts that felt like they only had about three works of reserves left."
Fowler voted against the plan. The Harrisburg republican says while he's happy the schools have a funding plan, he's concerned about how the state will pay for it going forward.
"The future, it goes far beyond just the moment. I'm concerned because there's going to have to be revenues created and hopefully we can create revenues by growing our economy."
Fowler says he remains firmly behind Governor Bruce Rauner's pro-business reform agenda to bring more jobs to Illinois.
State Representatives Terri Bryant and Dave Severin both agree they're relieved Illinois has a new school funding plan, although they were on opposite sides when it came to the final vote.
Severin voted no. The freshman republican from Benton says he realizes schools had to have state funding right away, but he didn't like everything in the bill.
"There's still some things in there for Chicago. I realize it was a compromise, but still I felt I needed to stand for my beliefs and our beliefs here in the 117th (district). Also, the tax credit thing is good for businesses, but as far as our schools here, we'll see."
The tax credit involves those who donate to private school scholarships.
Bryant voted in favor of the plan. The Murphysboro republican understands the concerns of those who voted no, but she says the bottom line is schools in southern Illinois will finally get equitable treatment.
"I think I have two school districts maybe that are in Tier II, all the rest are in Tier I, that's the neediest schools. So, we're finally going to be acknowledged for the fact that we have great needs here and they need to be met."
Bryant says Tier I schools will receive state funding first.