Another Plan To Fix School Funding

Apr 12, 2017

Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) announces his new school funding plan at a press conference.
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois
Illinois lawmakers from both political parties seem to be gathering behind a new school funding plan called the "evidence-based model." Today, Jason Barickman, a Republican from Bloomington, announced that he plans to file his own version in the Senate.

This legislation, which Barickman said will be filed as an amendment to an existing bill, will mark the second time he has introduced a school funding plan based on the "evidence-based model." His first effort, in 2015, never got so much as a committee hearing. But over the past two years, that basic idea has caught on, and is now contained in legislation sponsored by Will Davis, a Democratic representative in the Illinois House. 

The details of Barickman's new proposal weren't immediately available, because he hasn't actually filed the legislation. But he is talking with Davis in hopes of achieving a bipartisan, bicameral agreement. "Representative Davis has his ideas; I've got mine. I think the important thing here is we're all communicating," Barickman said. Left out of that loop was Democratic Sen. Andy Manar, who had worked with Barickman on school funding, and has filed a Senate bill duplicating the Davis plan. Does that signal an end to the Manar-Barickman team? Barickman's spokesperson said no, he's happy to work with anyone. Barickman also acknowledged that any plan would need the approval of Gov. Bruce Rauner and his top aides — something he's still working on. "They haven't seen it yet," Barickman said. "But we're going to put it out there and receive feedback from all sorts of groups and people who are important to the legislative process." Like similar bills already filed, Barickman's proposal would base school funding on the unique demographic needs of each school district. Unlike the others, it would end the automatic block grant for Chicago Public Schools.​