Barickman questions school-funding formula bill's language changes
Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) had some questions about education-funding trailer HB5812 at a recent Senate Education Committee subject hearing.
With some serious cleanup language, HB 5812 “is as final as it can possibly be,” said bill sponsor Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), who assured his peers that millions of dollars would be distributed “and prioritized to the must underfunded first,” before he noted there were both “nominal and large” changes to the language.
“The testimony that we heard ... which was also made privately to some members but made public by ISBE, was that there were no changes necessary to the formula that must be made for ISBE to be able to implement the new law,” Barickman said. “Since that statement, there has been 20 changes.”
Barickman said his comment wasn’t so much for Manar as it was for Illinois State Board of Education Chief Financial Officer Robert Wolfe.
The bill has had many Republicans concerned, with Reps. Peter Breen (R-Lombard), Steve Reick (R-Woodstock) and Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) all confronting co-sponsor Rep. William Davis (D-Homewood), who presented it on the House floor in an early March debate. In a late February Senate Appropriates II Committee hearing, Sen. Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) told ISBE Superintendent Tony Smith he failed lawmakers with a funding formula he said was not realistic
Barickman wanted to know from Wolfe whether the bill before him was necessary for ISBE to implement the new model and the status of filling the Professional Judgment Panel, which is supposed to be by law stakeholders who review changes to the model.
Wolfe said only one of the 20 changes would affect the implementation of the funding, specifically funding for pre-K education.
“So, what does that mean, that this is not necessary to implement the new law?” Barickman asked again.
“What that means is if this bill is not passed, acted upon or put into law, ISBE can implement the evidence-based funding without the inclusion of pre-kindergarten ESL (English as a Second Language),” Wolfe said.
As for filling the Professional Judgment Panel, Barickman was told it is still not done.
“My plea is to release the money that school districts have been hammering on many of us to get released and to put the Judgment Panel in place as soon as possible so we as legislators don’t have to interpret what is being done,” Barickman. “I don’t understand what is taking so long to get it enacted.”