Is Cullerton serious about education funding?


Democratic Party Senate President John Cullerton at the City Club yesterday.

John Cullerton spoke at the City Club yesterday. It was the first time he spoke publicly since last week’s blundering pronouncement by Governor Rauner about a deal over public employee pensions.

Several hours after the Governor spoke, Cullerton issued a statement saying there was no deal.

Yesterday he said there was a deal. It was just not the deal as Rauner described it.

Cullerton has always believed that a choice option between lower salary or lower benefits would satisfy the consideration requirement of changing the pension contract.

It doesn’t, as I wrote about yesterday.

The main topic of Cullerton’s speech at the City Club yesterday was the state education funding formula. He described it as the real turnaround agenda, distinguishing it from Rauner’s anti-union turnaround agenda.

Beware when any politician uses the word turnaround.

Was this just politics or is Cullerton serious about addressing the scandal of Illinois school funding?

The bill that is currently in the Illinois legislature that seeks to change the school funding formula is seriously flawed.

It attempts to address the problem of equitable funding for poor school districts without addressing the issue of adequate over-all funding. It reduces funding to schools in Chicago and Cook County where most of the state’s poor kids live.

Illinois sits at the bottom of the list of the fifty states when it comes to state funding of public schools.

The very bottom.

Simply shifting the crumbs that public schools get from one district to another won’t even begin to solve the problem of the inequality and racism of the Illinois education funding system.

Ralph Martire of the Center for Budget and Tax Accountabilty:

“For decades, Illinois has denied an adequate education to the vast majority of its school children, and it’s set up a structurally-racist system of education finance that specifically singles out African Americans and Latinos for very poorly funded education. To fix that, we need to raise taxes the right way.”

Any real turnaround in the state’s school funding must include:

  • Ending the system of funding of public schools that relies heavily on local property taxes. No Illinois child’s quality of education should depend on their zip code.
  • Raising revenue. We must move to a graduated income tax which places the responsibility for education funding on those most able to pay.
  • No reduction in targeted special education funding.

That is if the Senate President is serious.

9 Replies to “Is Cullerton serious about education funding?”

  1. With all the plans touted by politicians about how much money will be saved, they never appear on Chicago Tonight with graphs and charts that show the numbers. Only Ralph Martire bothers to provide evidence like that. Real numbers and real solutions. So many implications to the Cullerton plan beyond its most likely unconsititutional nature. For instance, will current pensions continue to be funded, what will be the scenario if percentages choose different programs, etc? Why not stop insulting the voters and start taxing the right people? Provide us with the numbers before you do anything.

  2. Why can’t x amount of dollars follow a low income child no matter the zip code? This way every child in poverty will receive aid.

  3. A footnote in the supreme court’s ruling said “additional benefits may always be added, of course and the state may require additional employee contributions or other consideration in exchange.”
    Added. Additional benefits. Additional.
    So, the “consideration clause” was intended to offer an ENHANCEMENT to a pension.
    During times of rampant inflation, like the 70’s, for example.

  4. I thought a pension was supposed to be deferred income. Doesn’t that mean that we have already accepted a lower salary to receive the benefits we do?

  5. Fred – I know your comment about Illinois being at the bottom of the list in terms of state spending on education means actual state spending without adding in property taxes. Can you give us a citation on the list showing rank order of state spending?

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