Funding Illinois' Future Response to Passage of FY25 State Budget

Published originally by Funding Illinois' Future coalition on May 29, 2024.

By Funding Illinois' Future Coalition | May 30, 2024 |
Advocates in Springfield on May 1, 2024

Today, the Illinois General Assembly appropriated $350 million in new dollars for the Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) formula for FY25. Per statute, the first $300 million of this appropriation will go to EBF and the remaining $50 million will go to Property Tax Relief Grants. We recognize the significant impact this investment will continue to have in schools across Illinois—especially those furthest from adequate funding, and appreciate that state leaders have made good on their commitment. That said, we are disappointed that another year will go by without increasing the appropriation of new funds into EBF beyond $350 million.

As educators, parents, civic and faith-based leaders, and advocates, we are sensitive to Illinois’ budget constraints. However, we know that a more meaningful increase to EBF is an investment in Illinois’ students, schools, and communities—an investment that pays dividends for generations to come.

In 2017, when EBF was passed, the promise was to fully fund our schools by 2027. At the current rate of $350 million a year into EBF, we will not reach that important deadline. Worse still, due to inflation, what could be purchased with $350 million in 2017 now costs $437 million. This means that providing the same level of instruction, support, and services costs more, yet the need has only grown. Federal dollars were a lifeline for districts to provide these supports; but with the impending loss of federal dollars this fall, school leaders and parents alike are unsure what programs will be reduced, or eliminated altogether. Meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse student population, and one that is still recovering from COVID disruptions, requires an increased investment. We do not believe this budget reflects the needs of students, communities, or a full understanding of the crisis at hand.

When asked what it means to attend a fully-funded school, students spoke up: enough classrooms and teachers; fully-functioning computer labs and libraries; music instruction and band instruments being able to get repairs; mental health resources; a strong art department; a place where students don’t have to fundraise for their extracurricular activities. These requests are not unreasonable; they are fundamental. Yet this is the circumstance for over one million students in our state who attend underfunded schools. Until all schools are fully funded, we should not be content with $350 million being an acceptable floor. Investing in EBF is an investment in a generation of learners.

Funding Illinois’ Future remains dedicated to working with our legislative champions to ensure every student in Illinois has access to a high-quality, fully-funded education. We will continue our fight until this promise is a reality for all Illinois students.

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