The General Assembly has been working on a fix to our state’s broken school funding formula. Over time, we have found a better approach known as the “evidence-based model.”

This spring, lawmakers made significant progress on a bipartisan school funding bill through good faith negotiations. Though close on a bipartisan compromise, the House Majority party chose to walk away from the negotiating table in late May and pass a partisan school funding bill, Senate Bill 1. “I could not support this proposal, which once again singled out one school district, Chicago Public School District 299, to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in special deals. In fact, under Senate Bill 1 seven out of every ten new dollars dedicated to school funding would be directed to Chicago,” said Rep. Dan Swanson.

“Additionally, Senate Bill 1 was not adequately funded in the budget passed by Senate Democrats in late May, and without the necessary funding would once again lead to the proration that plagued Illinois schools for years. In fact, the Democrats have not advanced a budget bill that provides the appropriate funding level required to satisfy the simulation they are promoting with Senate Bill 1,” Swanson continued.

For these reasons, the Governor has promised to veto the plan. This means the fate of Senate Bill 1 is clear.

However, there is an alternative that reflects a compromise worthy of bipartisan support. One in which all school districts would benefit under the more equitable formula advanced under House Bill 4069. In the spirit of compromise, the proposal adopts the overwhelming majority of Senate Bill 1. In fact, there are far more similarities between the two bills than there are differences.

Both bills utilize the same evidence-based model, as well as the same methods to deliver funding to low-income students, along with identical systems to determine cost differences between districts. In addition, both measures group districts into the same four tiers based on need and use the same local resource calculations. Further, both proposals feature the same safeguards for English learners and special education funds.

In May, the sponsor of Senate Bill 1, Senator Andy Manar, stated that the two proposals were 95 percent the same. Now, according to the sponsor of House Bill 4069, Representative Bob Pritchard, they are nearly identical, with a few important differences.

House Bill 4069 recognizes that Chicago needs help, and it provides the school district with assistance, based on evidence-based practices and the demographics of their students. What it doesn’t offer are special deals hidden in the formula that are designed to fix the Chicago Public Schools’ broken pension system and pay off their overwhelming debt from years of fiscal mismanagement. Instead, House Bill 4069 relies on the data, and the data alone, to drive resources to the schools that need it most, including Chicago.

“CPS has not run a school referendum in over 60 years. By comparison, AlWood (in the 74th District) conducted, 5 referendums in approximately 14 years,” said Rep. Swanson. “Downstate taxpayers have tried to fund and improve their schools adequately, but not such effort has been made by Chicago taxpayers. This is not about pitting the City of Chicago versus downstate, but we must not ignore the history of referendum driven efforts as well as the disparity in the way property taxes are assessed in Cook County,” Swanson continued.

WOODHULL… State Representative Dan Swanson (R-Alpha) issued the following statement following Governor Rauner’s Live Address on the eve of Special Session to resolve the budget impasse:

“Illinois has reached to point of catastrophic results if the state budget impasse is not resolved by the end of June. The uncertainty for our schools opening their doors in the fall, social service agencies not fulfilling the needs of our most vulnerable citizens, and road construction projects halting are all completely unacceptable to continue. Over these past few weeks, I have been meeting with and calling school superintendents, mayors, county board members, visiting senior centers, touring the Kewanee Life-Skills Re-Entry Center, addressing service clubs, fire chiefs, township officials, veterans, visiting food pantries, and meeting one-on-one with constituents from within the district. The message is clear from all of these groups- a comprehensive balanced budget must be passed now.”

Swanson continued, “our citizens deserve a balanced budget that has hard spending caps, delivers structural changes to attract jobs back to our State, and improves Illinois’ future to correct the missteps and mistakes of our past. The “Capitol Compromise” plan is one that the Governor can sign and includes priorities of both parties. While I don’t like every element, the bills set a good foundation to start.”
Rep. Swanson presented a certificate and flag flown over the State Capitol to Vietnam Veteran Marty South while visiting the Mercer County Senior Citizens Center in Aledo on June 15.

from WGIL Radio, June 7, 2017

State Rep. Dan Swanson was in Galesburg Wednesday afternoon, helping to cheer on the Law Enforcement Torch Run benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. So, Will Stevenson talked to him for Galesburg’s Evening News about that, and the state budget situation.
"I join millions of Illinoisans in outrage over the futility of the Illinois State Budgeting process we’ve seen displayed for far too many years.

I was sworn into the Illinois House just in January.  Now, in June, we stand at the edge of a record-setting third year without a State Budget in place.  I share in the disgust voters feel over this failure of leadership on behalf of those leading our legislative chambers.  Let’s remember, the budgeting process as prescribed by the Illinois Constitution rests with the Legislature.  That is the co-equal separation of powers set up under our Constitution.  The Governor proposes a budget, the Illinois Legislature sets a revenue estimate and passes a budget that the Governor may sign, veto, or line-item veto.  We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to spur action, we just have to follow our constitutional duty.  The Governor proposed a budget.  The Legislature failed to adopt a revenue estimate or pass a budget.  It’s that simple.

When Majority Democrats running the Illinois House failed to adopt a revenue estimate, I joined