Illinois legislators call for an end for "free lunches" for public schools

By Tom McIntyre

March 13, 2013 Updated Mar 14, 2013 at 11:01 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- One of the reasons pension reform has been slow in coming in Illinois is downstate resistance to proposals which would shift the cost of teacher's pensions to local school districts from the state.

That proposal comes directly from House Democrat leader Mike Madigan.

"My position on pension reform is that we have to eliminate the free lunch for local school districts," said Madigan.

"There is a free lunch, but after digging into the system of funding, we believe it's Chicago that's getting a free lunch," said Illinois Senate GOP Leader Christine Rodogno.

Senate Republican Leader Christine Rodogno told reporters Wednesday that Chicago has 18-percent of the public school students in the state, but receives a disproportionate amount of special funding from Property Tax Limitation Law Adjustments, special poverty grants and early childhood education funding.

"This means a child in Chicago has access to resources that a child downstate does not have," said Senator Jason Barickman, (R) 53rd District.

On Wednesday, an Illinois Senate Committee approved two different pension reform plans but how far they will advance in the full Senate is unknown.

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