Rauner announces bipartisan commission to improve school funding system

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Gov. Rauner announced a bipartisan commission Tuesday to improve the school funding system.

After months of fighting down in Springfield Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Tuesday that he is ready to overhaul the way Illinois funds state schools.

When it comes to funding education, Illinois ranks dead last out of 50 states. In addition, the Illinois funding formula has created a system where the spending gap between wealthier school districts and poorer ones is the widest in the country.

"The financial pressures that schools are facing, the state is facing, the city of the Chicago is facing, there is a lot of motivation to improve the system," Rauner said.

While it's been tried before, Rauner is hoping a new bipartisan commission will improve the system soon. Rauner said it's time to end the over reliance on property taxes to fund education.

"We need more equity and we need to increase state support in funding level and that will be the goal of the commission to recommend how to do that," he said.

It's a goal Rauner admits won't be easy. The 25-member panel will be headed by Rauner's hand-picked Secretary of Education Beth Purvis. Rauner appointed five people, four who are already part of his administration. Democratic and Republican party leaders appointed the remaining 20 members.

"No one is looking to be punitive toward any district across the state. The goal is to create a formula that is fair for every district," said Illinois Sen. Jason Barickman, a School Funding Commission Appointee.

But that could mean raising revenue to pay for school funding, and Rauner said he would consider a tax hike only if it's linked to his turnaround agenda reforms.

Rauner's goal for the commission is to propose new legislation by February 1st so law makers can act on it during the spring session and new funding formula could be in place by the following school year.
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