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Righter: Budget deal good for students, schools, and taxpayers

Springfield, IL – After months of budget negotiations, State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) joined lawmakers from both sides of the aisle June 30 in supporting a budget plan that ensures K-12 schools will open in the fall, higher education is funded, and critical state government operations remain intact.

“This budget agreement is beyond overdue,” Righter said. “But this proves good things can happen when everyone works together. It may not be the perfect plan, but it’s an affordable and responsible plan that helps our state and the people we serve.”

Under the budget deal, K-12 education will see an historic 12 month level of funding of $7.2 billion, an increase of $500 million compared to Fiscal Year 2016, and the foundation level for education will be funded at 100 percent for the first time in seven years.

“Fully funding our foundation formula is something I have advocated for and filed legislation over for years,” Righter said. “Prorating our schools was an extremely unfair practice I am glad is now done. It’s also good that no school district across the state loses a dime of funding next year through a hold harmless provision in this budget. Schools now have the certainty they deserve to open on time in the fall. The bottom line is this K-12 budget finally makes every student a priority and doesn’t pick winners and losers.”

Eastern Illinois University, Lake Land College, and all institutions of higher learning will also see funding under a budget plan approved by lawmakers, although it’s only for six months.

“This ensures EIU and all the community colleges I represent can operate through the fall semester, it gives certainty to students, and it gives a little more confidence to those who work at these institutions,” Righter said. “We must do much more to support higher education, but this helps immensely in the short term.”

The budget deal also includes six months of funding for human services, state prisons, mental health centers, and veterans’ homes. Construction projects, however, will receive a full year of funding.

“This is not the preferred way to budget in Illinois, but it was of the essence to get something done to prevent a monumental calamity,” Righter said. “I am committed to continuing to work in a bi-partisan fashion so we can pass long term solutions to Illinois’ fiscal and economic problems. It will take a lot of work, difficult choices, and long term planning to get our fiscal house in order, but I believe that can happen.”