biss020414Illinois’ education funding system is so broken that the state is now sending school districts nearly random amounts of money. For the last three years, aid to schools has been prorated across the board, which is among the least thoughtful and most regressive ways of dealing with a budget shortfall.

Recently, the Education Funding Advisory Committee released what I believe is a very important and encouraging report. You can read it here. I’m thankful to the members of the Senate Education Funding Advisory Committee for spending the last six months thinking through some of the most complex questions we face and listening to those who directly experience the effects of haphazard state aid.

The committee has made a number of recommendations designed to repair the funding mechanism. They include: 

  • Creating a single funding formula through which 96 percent of state K-12 education dollars would flow
  • Giving additional weight in the formula to high-need students (socioeconomically at-risk, English language learners and students with special education needs)
  • Requiring greater transparency from school districts about how state funds are spent, not just at the district level but in each individual school building
  • Reforming the “PTELL adjustment” used for tax-capped districts so we do a better job accounting for each school district’s true ability to pay for education using local resources

 

I’m very encouraged by the committee’s recommendations. Rolling most types of state K-12 funding into a single formula is the best way to give local school districts the resources they need. Changing the formula that distributes money to school districts will never be painless or easy. But the committee’s recommendations are a firm step in the right direction, and I’m excited about supporting and assisting the committee this spring as we work toward a formula that does what it was intended to do.

Finally, any formula is pointless unless we fully fund it. Once we come up with a formula we believe in, we must devote enough state dollars to make it work. Adequate state funding for education must be a primary consideration as we address the state’s budget and tax structure.

Please be in touch with me with feedback about these proposals and your thoughts on education funding. I can be reached in my office at (847) 568-1250 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Category: Latest

biss012914Today I returned to Springfield for the State of the State address and the beginning of my fourth legislative session.

Last year was difficult, filled with significant and controversial legislative activity. That said, there is much more work to do on a number of fronts. Moreover, we will be electing a governor this fall, and though this is frustrating, the reality is that politics will likely further complicate legislative efforts to tackle our most pressing issues.
 
With so many challenges ahead of us, it is especially important to articulate a clear, bold agenda for Illinois. What follows is a (lengthy) sketch of my thoughts on the upcoming legislative session; I would of course always welcome the opportunity to hear your comments, questions, and suggestions.

Read more: 2014 Legislative Preview

Category: Latest

Thank you to all who participated in the discussion about retirement security at the final forum of our Critical Issues Series! I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation and hope you did, too. I'm also extremely grateful to our panelists for their fantastic presentations, which you can access pptxhere. (PowerPoint required)

This is the second year our office has hosted this Critical Issues Series and we're already looking forward to next year. If you have thoughts about how we can improve this program, please let us know! You can call my office at 847-568-1250 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I wish you and yours a happy holiday season and a peaceful and healthy 2014.

Category: Latest

State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) speaks in favor of Senate Bill 1 during debate of the pension reform bill Tuesday on the Senate floor.This afternoon, the General Assembly passed a comprehensive pension reform bill. The governor has indicated that he will sign it soon, bringing to a close an incredibly difficult, rancorous, and painful, but essential legislative process.

This bill was a report of a 10-member conference committee and was the outcome of discussions throughout the summer and fall, culminating in a final negotiation between the four legislative leaders. I was honored to be appointed to the conference committee, and I was among the nine committee members who signed off on this bill. The full text of the bill can be found here, and you can download a two-page summary here.

Important Features of the Bill

In my view the most important features are the following:

Read more: UPDATE: Pension reform

Category: Latest

Contact Me

District office:
3706 Dempster St.
Skokie, IL 60076
(847) 568-1250
(847) 568-1256 FAX

Springfield office:
417B Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-2119

Email:
biss@senatedem.illinois.gov

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