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Righter: The time is now to fully fund our schools

Springfield, IL – A vocal proponent of fully funding the Foundation Level for public grade schools and high schools, State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) says it is refreshing to have Gov. Rauner support the effort as well. The Governor called for fully funding the K-12 foundation formula during his Budget Address Feb. 17.

“So many of our schools are suffering, largely because Springfield has broken its promise to fully fund our current formula,” Righter said. “For too long, the Democratic majority has shortchanged our teachers and students, causing hardships across the state. The time to fully fund our schools is now.”

Last year, Sen. Righter sponsored legislation (Senate Bill 1341) that would end the practice of “proration.” For several years, school districts received as low as 87 percent of what they were supposed to receive from the state. Righter’s legislation would require the Foundation Level grant within the state’s General State Aid formula be funded at 100 percent before directing education dollars to any other grant lines or programs.

In conjunction with fully funding schools, Righter also supports mandate relief. Righter’s Senate Bill 3182 would create the Local Unfunded Mandate Exemption Act and allow units of local government, school districts, and public colleges and universities, to exempt themselves from any unfunded mandate if compliance with the mandate is not economically feasible.

“Every time Springfield sends an unfunded mandate to our schools, something has to give, whether it’s cuts, higher fees, or higher property taxes,” Righter said. “Superintendents across the 55th District tell me they are up against the wall sometimes with so many unfunded mandates. Fully funding our schools and mandate relief – two issues everyone should get behind in Springfield.”

In 2015, Righter served on the Local Government and Unfunded Mandates Task Force, which issued a report of recommendations Jan. 4.