Gov's Proposal Pours Good Money Into Bad Plan, Manar Says

Feb 16, 2017

State Sen. Andy Manar, here in a 2014 file photo, has been calling for school funding reform for several years.
Credit Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner prides himself on robust funding for elementary and secondary education, and in yesterday's budget address, he promised a $213 million increase for k-12 schools. But State Sen. Andy Manar says only a fraction of that money will reach Illinois’ poorest school districts.

Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill, served on Rauner's school funding reform commission, and points to the group's unanimous conclusion: that school districts with high concentrations of poverty should be prioritized when the state hands out funding. The governor instead suggested adding more money to the existing formula, which both Democrats and Republicans have denounced as inequitable.

"On one hand, he proposed the same thing and on the other hand, he's holding up a nice shiny report that says opposite of what he presented to us today," Manar said. "He could've submitted a budget to us that acknowledges his own commission's work and puts a downpayment on what his own commi​ssion says is important, and he didn't do that. And that's beyond disappointing because that's not going to help us get a bill passed."

Rauner did follow the commission's recommendations to stop cutting state money schools are supposed to get for transportation and bilingual education.​

Manar has sponsored his own school funding plans in the past, and says he's working with two Republican senators on a plan that reflects the commission's recommendations.