To the Editor:
Last week, just before the beginning of the new fiscal year, the General Assembly passed a stop-gap measure that provides much needed funding for our human service providers, our public universities and most importantly for our local schools to ensure they open on time in the fall.
The spending plan provides $1 billion in funding for higher education, including funds to resume the critical MAP grant program that so many of our students rely on to fund their college expenses.
It also provides additional dollars for CPS by putting more money through the poverty grant. These additional dollars will help us begin to deal with the district’s ballooning structural deficit that was created, in no small part, because the State of Illinois has serially underfunded CPS for decades.
It is important to understand, however, that despite these additional funds, the inequity in the funding formula itself went unchanged and therefore continues to punish poor students all across the state. This is yet another reminder that real work still lies ahead of us.
To be clear, this is an important step forward, but by no means does this constitute a cure for the devastation this governor has inflicted on the state of Illinois in his attempt to hold everyone hostage to his anti-union, anti-working family political agenda. There has been real and irreversible harm done to the entire state because of this governor’s political games that could take a very long time to fully recover from.
It is an outrage that it has taken the state this long to pass even a temporary stop-gap budget measure. I am hopeful that the progress made last week for our students, our social service providers and our most vulnerable is a sign of better days ahead.
I’m even more committed to continuing the fight for new revenue, a more equitable education funding formula and a complete budget that reflects the needs and priorities of our great state.