House Republicans Denounce Pritzker Decision to Tie School Funding to Graduated Income Tax Hike Approval
State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Morrisonville) joined a group of House Republicans on Thursday to denounce Governor JB Pritzker’s decision to place passage of his graduated income tax proposal ahead of a commitment to fully fund education, health care and public safety in the FY21 budget.
Bourne, who serves as the Republican Spokesperson on the K-12 Education- Curriculum & Policies Committee, called the Governor’s decision to tie full funding of key budget areas- especially schools- to his political agenda “extremely self-serving.”
“Governor JB Pritzker’s call for $1.4 billion to be withheld as conditional spending pending voter action on his graduated income tax proposal is out-of-line and unnecessary,” said Bourne.
Bourne went on to explain that in his February 19 budget address the Governor recommended holding back $150 million in funds for the evidence-based school funding formula and an additional $40 million for mandated categorical payments for school special education and transportation. The result is that less funding would be available to help close the equity gap for schools. In addition, his recommendation would disproportionately impact funding for rural and small schools.
“The Pritzker budget speaks volumes about the Governor’s priorities,” said Bourne. “He would rather withhold funding from our schools to further his political agenda than provide a stable and responsible budget that fully funds schools and lives within our means.”
Because school districts must complete their levies and budgets prior to the November vote on the graduated income tax Constitutional Amendment, Bourne explained that the Governor is putting schools in an impossible situation. There will be no certainty on the funding that schools will receive from the state, forcing them to delay hiring decisions and to potentially increase property taxes.
“Schools need and deserve certainty as they determine their levies and craft their budgets,” Bourne said. “How are they supposed to make decisions on hiring and on classroom resources if they don’t know how much funding the state will provide?”
Bourne also questioned how the Illinois State Board of Education would implement a State Education budget that includes almost $200 million in hypothetical money.
“The responsible thing to do would have been to introduce a budget that gives schools and taxpayers certainty,” added Bourne. “The Pritzker budget does neither. With record revenues coming into the state, it is possible to sit down and craft a bipartisan budget that meets the minimum funding levels without any new taxes and without a reliance on Governor Pritzker’s graduated income tax proposal.”