Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan has been saying that Downstate schools are receiving a “free lunch” on pensions compared to schools in Chicago, where local taxpayers pay for teachers’ pensions. In Downstate and the suburbs, the state pays for teachers’ pensions.
Senator McCann told a Capitol news conference yesterday that in the past 12 years the general state aid funding formula for public education has dropped from 88 to 53 percent leaving other funding mechanisms, such as poverty grants, to pick up the funding slack.
McCann says those are poverty grants that favor Chicago over Downstate schools.
“What we've done is we've created a system in which we say a child living in poverty who happens to go to Chicago schools is worth more to the state of Illinois than a child living in poverty in Downstate Illinois," says McCann. "That's wrong."
Senator McCann says the news conference was about setting the record straight on school funding. He says it’s not about Downstate and the suburbs versus Chicago because all schools face serious challenges.
“This is all about being a catalyst to engage in the conversation and start looking at this with eyes wide open, stop making accusations that aren't true because Downstate is more than paying its way," says McCann. "We're here to say we want to make sure that Downstaters know that we are going to stand up for them...We know that we're paying our way and we want to join in the conversation with all leaders here...to make sure that parity is brought back to the table."
McCann was joined by Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno and several other Republican State Senators at yesterday’s news conference.