Education funding takes a step forward in Illinois Senate

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Could the state’s budget deficit be a blessing in disguise for education funding? That might turn out to be the case, if state Sen James Meeks is successful in finally getting Senate Bill 750 passed into law. What’s different this time around is that the proposal takes aim not just at school funding, but the state’s crippling $11 billion deficit.

The proposal would raise $1 billion for schools, $1 billion for capital projects and $4 billion for the state’s general revenue fund.

Could the state’s budget deficit be a blessing in disguise for education funding?

That might turn out to be the case, if state Sen. James Meeks is successful in finally getting Senate Bill 750 passed into law. What’s different this time around is that the proposal takes aim not just at school funding, but the state’s crippling $11 billion deficit.

The proposal would raise $1 billion for schools, $1 billion for capital projects and $4 billion for the state’s general revenue fund.

This week, SB750 made it out of the Education Committee, and lawmakers are rewriting it in preparation for a final Senate vote, according to a spokesperson for Senate President John Cullerton. That vote hasn’t been scheduled yet, although Cullerton’s office is promising a full floor vote before the end of the session, which is now scheduled for May 29.

So far, 21 lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors. The Center on Tax and Budget Accountability has outlined the provisions of SB750, including how it would phase-in increases to per-pupil funding and early childhood. 

Should SB750 pass the Senate, the proposal would then go to the House for a vote.

Lawmakers are now focused on how to structure a corporate tax increase, an issue that has raised heated debate, according to Cullerton’s spokesperson. The current proposal would raise the personal income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent.