Advance Illinois Statement on the FY21 State Budget
CHICAGO, IL (June 4, 2020) In masks and social distancing, and in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, members of the Illinois General Assembly had difficult decisions to make in last month’s special session as they did their part to put our state on the path to recovery.
We entered this year with a call for much-needed increased investments in education—from early childhood to higher education. With the impact of COVID-19 on our students and families, that need has intensified, even as the state’s budget circumstances have worsened. Accordingly, we braced ourselves for the worst.
We are relieved that, in many areas, the General Assembly kept the FY 21 education budget at or near the same level as last year, and we recognize and appreciate that this decision reflects Springfield’s understanding that education must be a priority always, especially during this unprecedented crisis. With that said, we acknowledge that the state’s finances are unstable. The approved budget relies on roughly $5 billion in borrowing, gives the governor the ability to transfer up to 8 percent of almost any budget line into another budget line and pins hopes on additional and significant federal relief funds.
Hopefully, educators, families and students will take some comfort in knowing that the Evidence-Based Funding formula, and programs that help address the teacher shortage will receive funds on par with last year’s investment (click here for a detailed summary of the budget). And, we congratulate the General Assembly for passing legislation that acknowledges the progress of districts that have been taken over by the state and have made hard-won gains by affording them greater financial predictability, bringing intervention funding into the broader funding formula.
The state’s recovery will depend upon continued investments in early childhood and higher education—areas that have been woefully underfunded for years. While the FY 21 investments mostly stay flat, we applaud the small increases to Early Intervention (EI) and the expansion of federal resources, specifically for early childhood with the new Business Interruption Grants (BIG). We also recognize the importance of maintaining investment in MAP and institutions, especially for our undocumented and other students who are not currently eligible for federal support. We know that more work must be done to ensure that high-quality early childhood programs are available to all children and that college-bound students have access to affordable higher education options. We hope and trust these investments will continue to be a priority for the General Assembly and the governor as our budget situation improves.
We remain grateful to the General Assembly for prioritizing children, even under the cloud of COVID-19 and knowing that we face a steep set of challenges if further revenue does not materialize. But, whether or not our budget improves, we have serious work to do. Research makes it clear that our students and teachers will need more supports, more training and more time to plan and learn if we are to ensure that the impact of this pandemic does not follow children into the future. Recovery will be difficult and take focus and time, but the people of Illinois are resilient. We stand ready to do our part.
About Advance Illinois
Advance Illinois is an independent policy and advocacy organization working toward a health public education system that enables all students to achieve success in college, career and civic life. Since its founding in 2008, Advance Illinois has become a nationally recognized thought leader in education policy advocacy. To learn more visit advanceillinois.org.
Roderick K. Hawkins, Communications Director
José García, Communications Associate