In a maneuver some state lawmakers call a "booby trap," the spending plan approved last week says Illinois can't appropriate money for schools unless a new funding formula also wins approval. It ties K-12 dollars to something known as the "evidence-based model."
Both political parties endorse this model, which is based on each district's demographics. The Democrats' version has passed the House and the Senate; they haven't sent it to Gov. Bruce Rauner, however, because he has promised to veto it.
Representative Will Davis, of Homewood, sponsored that bill and had, until recently, been negotiating with Republicans to try to make it something Rauner would sign, but he said Republicans wanted to add vouchers and other items that hadn't been part of school funding before.
"I won't even call this the 11th hour,” he said. “How about the 11-59th hour. So again, is that all about derailing the overall conversation? Just putting another item on the board that we've now got to deal with?"
The state has not fully-funded schools since 2009, and some districts warn they won't be able to operate more than a few months without state money.