Illinois lawmakers may use education money to fix budget gap - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois lawmakers may use education money to fix budget gap

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Taking from one in order to pay the other; that's the plan from Illinois state lawmakers just to make it through this fiscal year. That money is potentially coming from school districts. According to some school leaders, it would mean a major cut on top of the cuts they are already dealing with.

Illinois went into this fiscal year not knowing how it would pay for everything. The state has already run out of money. It's short $1.6 billion dollars. 13 News told you before child care subsidies, prisons and court reporters all are without funding. Some court reporters are already on furlough; child care subsidies haven't been paid in months. Now the state says it has a solution: cutting from other programs.

"The rest of the money that we need, from an across the board 2.25 percent cut in most state programs," says State Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, House Majority Leader.

The plan proposed by House Speaker Mike Madigan lets Gov. Bruce Rauner transfer $1.3 billion from other purposes including parks and conservation. The rest comes from cuts including 2.25 percent from education. Freeport schools says that's around $350,000. But that's on top of money Illinois has not paid districts this year.

"In the big picture of state aid the state has only been paying about 89 percent of what they owe us in the first place. For us that's been about $1.8 to $1.9 million that we don't get each year," says Patrick McDermott, assistant superintendent of Freeport Schools.

School districts across the area are in the same position. Besides $700,000 already missing, these cuts would mean the Hononegah School District would lose $100,000.

In Rockford, it would mean the district loses a little more than $2 million.

"So we may look first to see if the board wants to first utilize reserves to cover this. The other option would be we would have to look at further reductions," says Dr. Ehren Jarrett, superintendent of Rockford Public Schools.

House Bill 317 passed out of committee and now goes to the full house for a vote.

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