How previous reform attempts fared

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1970—Illinois voters approve the current state constitution, which provides that “the state has the primary responsibility for financing the system of public education.”

1973—The Illinois Supreme Court determines that the state’s “primary responsibility” for school funding doesn’t require it to pay for at least half of education expenses. The U.S. Supreme Court also blocks federal suits claiming that disparities among schools violate the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

1989—Legislature passes temporary income tax “surcharge,” raising the rate to 3 percent. The money goes mainly to schools and municipalities.

1992—A proposed constitutional amendment that would require the state to fund 51 percent of education costs fails. While 57 percent of voters supported it, the measure needed 60 percent to pass.

1993—The income tax surcharge is made permanent.

1994—Gubernatorial candidate Dawn Clark Netsch proposes raising the income tax in order to lower property taxes and better fund public schools. Her opponent, Gov. Jim Edgar, attacks the idea. Edgar wins.

1996—The Illinois Supreme Court rejects a suit claiming that the statewide disparities in school funding were unconstitutional.

1997—Edgar proposes a tax swap similar to Netsch’s. The measure passes the House but stalls in the Senate. Later, Edgar and the Legislature establish minimum levels of per-pupil funding. The required money comes from higher taxes on cigarettes, riverboats and phone services.

1999—The Illinois Supreme Court rules on a class-action suit brought by East St. Louis students who say their education was so poor that it amounted to a deprivation of their right to a free education under the Illinois Constitution. In a 5-2 decision, the court again leaves the matter to the Legislature.