Illinois' Geographic Rifts Grow Larger With School Spending Conflicts

Forget Democrats vs. Republicans. A brewing fight over how state government funds Illinois schools districts draws geographic battle lines that pit Chicago and downstate lawmakers against their suburban counterparts. Reboot Illinois' Madeleine Doubek explains how this chasm came to exist and how it could continue:

If you asked Illinois lawmakers if it's fair that some school districts spend well above $25,000 per student and others spend just over $6,000, my guess is nearly all would say no.

If you asked lawmakers if it's fair one community pays for its own pensions and for some of the rest of the state's, I'd bet nearly all would say no. If you asked them whether it's fair for people to get multiple 6-percent salary increases year after year after year in order to boost their retirement income, a majority probably would say no.

Yet, whenever these topics come up for discussion in Springfield, there's great dissension and division. The state will fracture, largely along geographic fault lines, with suburban legislators feeling like their region is in the crosshairs on all three topics.

Now, the suburbs are in the crosshairs, along with some central and southwestern Illinois counties, in a new school funding and pension revamp offered by state Rep. Christian Mitchell and other Chicago Democrats.

Read the rest at Reboot Illinois to find out what exactly Mitchell's and others' plans would entail.

One part of the school funding puzzle that has proven hard for districts and government officials to iron out is property taxes. Gov. Bruce Rauner said Aug. 17 he wants to implement a plan that would freeze local property taxes for two years. Part of that plan would include about $400 million in state money for Chicago Public Schools' struggling pension system. Check out Reboot Illinois to see what Mark Fitton says is the sticking point for many General Assembly Democrats when it comes to this plan by the governor.

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