May 28 - Legislative Update

[May 28, 2010] The Illinois General Assembly adjourned yesterday after approving a budget expenditure plan that prevents catastrophic cuts in funding for public education, but still falls short of full funding. The cut to statewide education funding contained in the original budget has been reduced by 75 percent, from $1.3 billion to $327 million. Raise Your Hand calls on Governor Quinn to use his budget authority provided under the Emergency Budget Act to restore the remaining $327 million.

Our coalition has worked tirelessly over the past two months to emphatically communicate to state lawmakers that level funding for education must be maintained. Through rallies, a Springfield Lobby Day, meetings with legislators, letter-writing campaigns, and the more than 145,000 emails that have been sent to state elected officials through NoTo37.org, our voices have been heard, and the gap has significantly narrowed. 

We recognize that this is an incomplete and short-term solution to the education funding crisis and in no way addresses the need for long-term sustainable funding for public schools.  However, this is an important first step in filling the $600 million deficit that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) face for the upcoming school year.  Unfortunately, there remains a projected budget hole of $232 — $325 million that needs to be addressed by CPS leadership. 

Mayor Daley and the CPS leadership have been remarkably silent about how they plan to fill the remaining budget deficit, other than to propose teacher lay-offs, which would force an unacceptable 35 to 37 students per classroom. Raise Your Hand calls on local officials and CPS leadership to look at other sources to adequately fund the Chicago Public Schools, including cutting waste in the CPS budget, and reforming the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) system to halt the annual diversion of an estimated $275 million in CPS property tax revenues.   Over the next month leading up to the June 23 CPS board vote on the 2010-2011 CPS budget, Raise Your Hand will mobilize locally, with the same razor-sharp focus we used to send our message to state elected officials: NO MORE CUTS TO EDUCATION

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