Letter: Sen. Dillard warns about vote on school funding formula

I write to warn about legislative efforts to overhaul the state’s school aid funding formula, SB 16, which was passed by the state Senate and is pending in the House. The provisions of this bill are dangerous for suburban schools and taxpayers.

The rewrite of the state’s school funding formula would dramatically change how school aid is distributed. I voted against SB 16 because it creates big “winners” at the expense of other, primarily suburban, schools that will see huge reductions in state funding.

“You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong,” is a quote oft attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but really the handiwork of a Presbyterian minister named the Rev. William J. H. Boetcker. In any event, the quote applies here.

As a suburbanite and a parent with two children in public school, I have serious misgivings about the negative impact of SB 16, not just in the 24th Senate District where I live — which stands to lose $20 million — but across the state. This plan does not improve school funding, it disguises it. The new formula advanced in this legislation doesn’t change the record of short-changing schools, it merely masks how poorly the state is funding those schools.

I am troubled by a change made by SB 16 that would allow the school funding foundation level to be reduced even further at the discretion of a state agency.

This bill decimates funding for suburban schools and will lead to skyrocketing property taxes and larger class sizes. With real estate tax bills coming due, I assure you property taxpayers cannot handle any more increases. Miraculously, Chicago is held harmless by SB 16 and stands to receive a slight uptick in funding.

Texas just added $4 billion for school funding, without a state income tax. They have a growing economy. Illinois Democrats take heed.

The financial upheaval caused by this legislation is not prudent and will prove extremely harmful to some downstate and most local suburban school districts and their future students if enacted.

State Sen. Kirk W. Dillard

24th District Hinsdale

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