Budgets are a reflection of our values. They reveal our dedication to commitments made and our priorities for the future.
Today, Governor Pritzker delivered his Budget Address, outlining his vision for how the State should move forward as we deal with the challenges of the pandemic in a year of extraordinary racial reckoning. He reminded us of the importance of standing together and assured us there is a brighter day ahead.
Governor Pritzker has been an exceptional education champion and an impassioned advocate of fair funding. But this year’s budget proposal calls for education funding to be held flat for the second year in a row. Because the proposal does not take inflation into account, it is actually a cut in education spending.
This is deeply concerning.
The pandemic revealed in high definition the damage of decades of unfair funding before evidence-based funding kicked in a few years ago. No under-funded district in this state -- rural or urban -- escaped that pain. We also know that communities of color have been hardest hit by COVID-19, and many are part of heavily under-funded districts.
When evidence-based funding passed in 2017, Springfield committed to adding at least $350 million annually to the education budget, with new funding going to the districts needing it the most. Moreover, many Springfield leaders agreed the next step would be to stop paying richer school districts more for their pension costs than under-funded districts receive; integrating pension costs into evidence-based funding would do this thoughtfully and help close the equity funding gap.
Our students are our future. Their education is their economic destiny and, in turn, the destiny of Illinois.
We are committed to working with Springfield leaders in the months ahead on fair funding that shows State government cares about every child in every school in every community across Illinois.