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Day Two Of Education Funding Talks More Subdued

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Illinois Network of Charter Schools
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A day after railing against the governor’s proposed education budget, a House panel Wednesday took a slightly more constructive tone on the same issue. But while there were fewer spats on day two, the hearing wasn’t without its back-and-forth.

When the entire House Appropriations Committee wrestled with the budget Tuesday, Democrats seemed unwilling to give an inch. But on Wednesday, there were compliments – actual compliments, not veiled, backhanded snipes.

“The voluntary Pre-K increase per student, I appreciate that," says Rep. Karen Castor Dentel (D-Maitland). "I’ve heard from lots of my constituents really saying that will go far, it’s needed.”

But it wasn’t long before she questioned whether the state was issuing an underfunded mandate to transition to a digital learning curriculum.

Governor’s Office Education Policy Coordinator Kim McDougal defended the budget more vehemently than did Office of Policy and Budget Director Cynthia Kelly the day before, and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with lawmakers like the committee’s ranking minority member Dwayne Taylor, who questioned why some university building projects that were funded one year saw their funding vetoed the next.

“It’s the process – we recommend things, you pick up, you don’t pick up. Hopefully you’ll pick up almost everything we recommend,” she says.
“You know, I have a number of college presidents that have come and said ‘I don’t understand this.’,” Taylor says.

Committee chairman Erik Fresen (R-Miami) then came to McDougal’s aid, noting she couldn’t be expected to get in Rick Scott’s head and determine why he makes his veto decisions.