On Aug. 29, the Illinois Senate voted to approve the school funding reform bill, SB 1947, with 38 yes votes,  13 no votes and 4 abstentions.

Some Democrats were unhappy with a provision in the bill that grants tax credits up to a total of $75 million to people who make donations to fund scholarships for qualified students attending private schools.

State Senator Daniel Biss voted no. State representatives Robin Gabel and Laura Fine vote against the bill yesterday.

In a prepared statement Sen. Biss said, “Today, Bruce Rauner used a school funding crisis he created to get even more tax breaks for millionaires and fund private schools with taxpayer dollars. Middle class parents like me are fed up with footing the bill for rich people’s tax cuts.

“I’m running for governor to end schemes like these, and to make the rich finally pay their fair share in taxes. We’ll use that revenue to fully fund schools in every neighborhood, so every child gets the education they need to succeed.”

Gov. Bruce Rauner said he plans to sign the bill.

Gov. Rauner issued the following prepared statement:

“Today, members of the Illinois Senate voted in favor of legislation that will bring historic education reform to Illinois children and their families. First, I would like to thank Senate President John Cullerton and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady and other members for working together to close the gap on school funding and making sure every child across the state will have access to the best education.

“For far too long, too many low-income students in our state have been trapped in underfunded, failing schools. The system needed to change. We have changed it. We have put aside our differences and put our kids first. It’s a historic day for Illinois.

“Our leaders worked together to provide school choice protection for parents who want the best education possible for their children. This is accomplished by ensuring that district-authorized charter schools receive equal funding, and by providing families with limited financial resources the same access to private schools. The Tax Credit Scholarship program encourages individuals and businesses to enable families to choose the school that best meets the needs of their children. 

“This compromise also provides much-needed mandate relief for school districts and presents avenues for property tax relief. School districts will be given flexibility in how they schedule physical education curriculum and how they administer driver’s education curriculum. In more affluent school districts, this bill provides taxpayers with a chance to lower their property taxes through the referendum process.

“This is just the beginning of transforming education funding. I want Illinois to be the No. 1 state in the nation for education. Nothing is more important than educating our children.”