Lawmakers try to strike deals on school funding, more charters

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SPRINGFIELD: With the end of the current legislative session just two days away, some Illinois lawmakers are proposing to funnel billions of new dollars to education. But their proposal would require an income tax hike that may be too big for some colleagues to swallow.

Another proposal would raise the state’s charter cap and give Chicago 10 more charters.

Members of the Senate Education Committee on Friday haggled over revisions to Senate Bill 750. On Friday, committee members included a new provision to increase the corporate income tax from 4.8 percent to 7.2 percent. The personal income tax would increase from 3 percent to 5 percent. If passed, SB750 could mean almost $2.5 billion for schools statewide next year, according to state Sen. James Meeks.

SPRINGFIELD: With the end of the current legislative session just two days away, some Illinois lawmakers are proposing to funnel billions of new dollars to education. But their proposal would require an income tax hike that may be too big for some colleagues to swallow.

Another proposal would raise the state’s charter cap and give Chicago 10 more charters.

Members of the Senate Education Committee on Friday haggled over revisions to Senate Bill 750. On Friday, committee members included a new provision to increase the corporate income tax from 4.8 percent to 7.2 percent. The personal income tax would increase from 3 percent to 5 percent.

If passed, SB750 could mean almost $2.5 billion for schools statewide next year, according to state Sen. James Meeks (I-Chicago). The extra money for education would grow each year as the economy grows, the Chicago Democrat said.

But passing the bill into law won’t be easy, and it’s unclear when it will be called for a vote before the full Senate. Lawmakers are struggling to decide the best way to close the state’s crippling $11.6 billion budget deficit and are now contemplating a temporary tax increase instead of Meeks’ bill.

Lawmakers fearing backlash from voters say they’re hesitant to support higher taxes for education without more accountability for results. Business groups are pushing back against the corporate income tax increase.

Earlier this month, Gov. Pat Quinn said thousands of teachers could be laid off if lawmakers don’t approve his proposal to raise personal income taxes to 4.5 percent. To help fill the gap, he also wants future teachers to pay more into their pension.

Behind the scenes, legislators are also trying to strike a deal to raise the cap on charter schools. The current plan on the table would raise the total number of charter schools to 40 in Chicago and 30 for the rest of the state. That bill, too, faces a Sunday deadline.

Andrea Zelinski is a freelance writer based in Springfield.