Illinois Republicans Pushing For School-Choice System

Aug 3, 2017

State Sen. Jason Barickman
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Illinois Republicans are pushing for a new program similar to school vouchers as part of negotiations over the education funding formula.

The impasse over school funding is jeopardizing nearly all state money for K-12 schools. Negotiations are continuing after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed portions of the bill. But Republican State Sen. Jason Barickman accused Democrats of changing their position.

"We keep hearing from Democrats that 'We’re close, we’re close, we’re close,'" he said, "when in fact they’ve never put a firm stake in the ground, something that we could accept."

Barickman said Republicans want a scholarship program that lets students choose which schools they attend. Teacher unions have criticized that idea in the past, noting it’s the same as school vouchers.

The Illinois Senate currently has 14 days to either accept or reject Rauner’s veto.