Education not spared from state budget cuts

2012-06-05T06:00:00Z 2012-06-21T23:20:03Z Education not spared from state budget cutsBY KURT ERICKSON, The Southern Springfield Bureau The Southern

SPRINGFIELD — School districts across Illinois could be facing an expensive double-whammy when it comes to state funding.

Not only did the $33.7 billion spending plan approved by lawmakers Thursday cut general state aid to schools by $161 million, but it remains unknown whether the General Assembly and Gov. Pat Quinn will move forward with a plan to shift the cost of teacher pensions from the state to local school districts.

In the coming weeks, both issues will be in the spotlight as Quinn considers whether to sign the budget plan and lawmakers return to the Capitol to continue debating how to overhaul a pension system that is $83 billion out of whack.

Members of the House and Senate left town last week having made some of the toughest votes in recent years. They cut Medicaid benefits, raised the cigarette tax and approved a budget slashing spending at many state agencies.

The proposed new state budget is slightly higher than the current spending plan. But, that’s because Medicaid costs and the state’s pension payment are on the rise.

“Even though we cut more from last year, the total budget was actually higher because of the pension payment,” said state Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan.

Some last-minute scrambling helped put some additional money into school funding. An initial version of the budget cut education dollars by more than $250 million over the current fiscal year. The budget that went to Quinn contains about $211 million fewer dollars for schools than in fiscal year 2012.

The general state aid reduction means schools will get about 89 percent of what they normally would receive for each of their pupils.

“While this is a significant reduction, it is not as bad as we had feared it could possibly be, given the dynamics of the final days of session,” state School Superintendent Christopher Koch said Monday.

Debate over the education budget reductions was impassioned for some lawmakers.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, a Maywood Democrat, pleaded with her colleagues to avoid general state aid cut to schools, which will have a major impact on school districts with low property values and high numbers of low-income students.

“We’re not helping the teachers. They’re in overcrowded classrooms. There’s no support system,” Lightford said.

In the House, Democrats and Republicans worked together for most of the spring to craft a budget that stayed under a self-imposed cap. The alliance splintered in the final days of the session because of disagreements over pensions and the budget.

Like Lightford, Verschoore said he wished there was a way to avoid the spending reductions.

“I feel like some of the cuts were a little draconian,” he said.

In addition to reducing general state aid to schools, the Early Childhood Block Grant program was cut by about $25 million, potentially leaving thousands of children with fewer preschool options.

Voices for Illinois Children, an advocacy group, said the budget also reduces spending on other child care subsidy programs, as well as a children’s mental health assistance program.

In a memo to its members, the organization suggests the General Assembly look for new ways to finance programs.

“It’s critical that policymakers continue considering alternate funding sources to further mitigate harmful cuts and restore balance to the budget process,” the memo notes.

In the final hours of the spring session, the Senate approved tax hikes affecting satellite television providers and oil companies as a way to raise money for schools.

Neither of the tax increases was taken up by the House before it adjourned.

The governor’s budget office signaled Monday that it supports the Senate tax increase proposal.

“We feel strongly that Illinois residents want to protect and invest in education and while the House budget makes reductions in this area, the Senate passed an amendment to maintain the FY12 funding level for this area,” said Kelly Kraft, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.


Copyright 2015 The Southern. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. mainman
    Report Abuse
    mainman - June 09, 2012 6:15 am
    Joe...good points, thanks !

    " 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative "

    I wonder what impact that has ? No more pledge of allegiance and the new " Grey area world with nothing sacred including God ! "
  2. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - June 05, 2012 6:30 pm
    Old Joe: If your friend is required to remove religious symbols it is because her clients are provided daycare by the taxpayers. You take the government money, you take the government strings. I don't want to be forced to support through taxation religious views I don't support. No establishment of religion.

    There is a church on every corner in America. In Herrin with 11,000 people, there are five Southern Baptist Churches. Add to that Energy First Baptist. That's just the SBC churches. Many churches are dying because they refuse to change, or the population has moved, or there are just too many churches for too little demand. Times have changed, not as many people go to church. The government has not had anything to do with that. We're discussing a spiritual issue there.

    As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools. The government did not outlaw prayer in school, they outlawed government prescribed prayer in school. Seriously, do you want some of these government jokers teaching your kid about prayer? The kids can pray in school, but the government cannot tell them they must pray, or tell them how to pray. That's good.

    Nothing negative intended by my "button pushing" comment. I'm enjoying the exchange with you and respect your opinions, as always.

    I do believe that Bald Knob is a vampire-free zone.
  3. OLD JOE
    Report Abuse
    OLD JOE - June 05, 2012 6:08 pm
    DeeJay a friend of mine, his wife runs a day care out of their home. They are religious people, and had to take their religious symbols out of every room in their home by law. Is that not infringement on religion?

    The bible says were ever two or more people gather in gods name is church.

    I may have pushed your buttons, but you made me laugh with your comment, separation of church and state is what made churches prosper lol.

    As a kid churches was full of people. Today not many churches has a membership of more than 10-15 people. Thanks to government laws, sticking their nose in religion.

    Oh I almost, as a kid prayer was allowed in schools, touching young people. Now sense prayer is not allowed in schools, the churches is becoming empty.

    In Buckner were I grew up, their 4 churches was full. Today 3 has closed. That is prospering lol.

    Bald Knob cross? Do you see any vampires living in that area?

  4. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - June 05, 2012 4:50 pm
    No, Old Joe, I don't support the President's policies regarding birth control and the Catholic Church, and my lack of support is based on the constitutional premise of separation of church and state. The government may not establish religion (no "official" or "approved" state church) or prohibit the free exercise of religion (such as forcing the Catholic church to provide contraceptive devices). The President has run into a buzz saw on this issue, and he is on shaky ground constitutionally. If he proceeds it will go to court, and he will probably lose. It is all up in the air right now as we await the Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of the whole health care law. We'll find out later this month.

    Outside of the President's policy, I'm not aware of any government attempts to put their "nose into church business." What did you have in mind?

    Consider this: In Herrin we have a nativity scene on the city hall lawn each Christmas. The ministerial alliance owns the nativity figures. In order to satisfy the requirements of the constitution (no establishment of religion by the government), the nativity scene stands alongside Rudolph and Santa. Now, I like Rudolph and Santa, but in my mind the nativity scene is something holy and special that rises above the secular aspects of Christmas. But, if we want it on the city hall lawn, it has to be equal to Santa and Rudolph. That's the price you pay when you mix church and state. Doesn't that cheapen the nativity scene?

    In Europe, where there is no separation of church and state, the churches are dead museums. State sponsored religious symbolism is everywhere, but it doesn't mean anything. In the United States churches and spiritual life have thrived because of our religious freedom.

    I love the Bald Knob Cross, but I am bothered by the fact that some tax money was used in the restoration. The justification for this action was that the cross has value for tourism. Apparently that argument won the day in court, so the tax money stays. But do you really want the cross labeled as a "tourist attraction"?

    Well, we're way off topic here, but Old Joe raised an issue that pushed my button. Separation of church and state is good for the spiritual health of America.

    Blessings and peace.
  5. OLD JOE
    Report Abuse
    OLD JOE - June 05, 2012 12:17 pm
    DeeJay I could live with separation of church and state, If the state would keep their nose out of the church business! But as long as government don't keep their nose out of church business, there is no separating of church and state. Government can't have it both ways!

    So I guess you also support Obama forcing the Catholic church to provide birth control to it's members/employees? The Catholic church is not my way of praising, But I do support the Catholic church ways 100%. I personally feel there is no wrong religion. Religion is a personal relationship with god.

    Government has put their nose in church business to many time, to have separate of church and state.
  6. wow
    Report Abuse
    wow - June 05, 2012 11:42 am
    "Our fine educators the is teaching our children". Did you mean "are" or did you mean "chitlins".
  7. DeeJay
    Report Abuse
    DeeJay - June 05, 2012 11:23 am
    I'm a conservative. Put me down for separation of church and state. It's a big part of the reason the churches have prospered in America.
  8. OLD JOE
    Report Abuse
    OLD JOE - June 05, 2012 8:41 am
    I'm offended that the liberals keeps trying to push the almighty out of our daily lives.

    I bet this Christmas season the liberals will make the news wanting to take down nativity scenes. Separation of church and state. When is the last time you heard a conservative cry those words?
  9. MickeeD
    Report Abuse
    MickeeD - June 05, 2012 8:16 am
    I'm more offended by your assumption that liberals wosrhip men over the almighty.
  10. OLD JOE
    Report Abuse
    OLD JOE - June 05, 2012 7:26 am
    To my liberal friends, I'm sorry about about my offensive God help america comment!

    I forgot that you worship a higher power than god. Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Durbin, Madigan and Jimmie Hoffa.
  11. OLD JOE
    Report Abuse
    OLD JOE - June 05, 2012 6:59 am
    Because of Illinois thieving liberal lawmakers, that refused to pay back money they borrowed from the teachers union our property taxes could be doubling!

    Just why didn't the union bosses raise hell or take the lawmakers to court for not paying back it's members money?

    Our fine educators that is teaching our children, the future of america. Keeps supporting the same political party that keeps bending them over and screwing them without even a kiss.

    And I thought I was a dumba$$. With educators like this, no wonder america is going down hill. Forest Gump said stupid is as stupid does. And our kids is being taught by these fine educators. God help america!!!
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Benton Rangers ready for "pink out" game

Benton Rangers ready for "pink out" game

Tonight's football game in Benton is about a bigger battle than the scoreboard. New

41 minutes ago(0)
Murphysboro man charged with burglary and felony retail theft

Murphysboro man charged with burglary and felony retail theft

A Murphysboro man has been arrested for stealing property from a vehicle outside of a tavern in Murphysboro, the Murphysboro Police Department… New

1 hour ago Related (0)
More than education at play in building wealth

More than education at play in building wealth

CARBONDALE — People have heard that getting a college degree is the way to build wealth, but that is not necessarily so, an expert with the Fe… Updated: 9:36 am

3 hours ago Related (0)

Confederate flag a no-show at Harrisburg homecoming

HARRISBURG – The Confederate Flag was a no-show Thursday at Harrisburg’s homecoming parade. Updated: 8:01 am

4 hours ago Related (1)
Home Depot event improves This Able Veteran's training facility

Home Depot event improves This Able Veteran's training facility

CARBONDALE -- Imagine having seven puppies in a room with carpeted floors. This Able Veteran encountered this problem as volunteers trained se…

5 hours ago Photos


Related (0)
Student gets dance team back in West Frankfort

Student gets dance team back in West Frankfort

Taylor Shoraga's essay would probably meet the same fate as most assignments in her freshmen English class -- that forgotten pile in her backp…

6 hours ago Related (0)
Bank of Carbondale gifts $5,000 to Good Samaritan

Bank of Carbondale gifts $5,000 to Good Samaritan

CARBONDALE — The Bank of Carbondale plans to award Mike Heath, executive director of Good Samaritan ministries, with a check for $5,000 this a… Updated: 10:15 am

7 hours ago Related (0)
Locals turn to solar power

Locals turn to solar power

CARBONDALE — A decade ago, Hugh Muldoon and his wife had a solar panel installed in their home in Carbondale.

9 hours ago Photos



Visitation, services for Harry Gallatin announced

Funeral services and visitation have been announced for former NBA player, SIU basketball coach and SIU Edwardsville Athletic Director Harry G…

12 hours ago(0)