One promise heard repeatedly during debate over the state's new school funding plan was "no red numbers," meaning any legislation that would make a district lose money was dead on arrival.
Last month, in a rare bipartisan compromise, lawmakers approved a new plan with no red numbers. But, in a separate action implementing the state budget, they siphoned 300-million dollars from a fund that schools and local governments rely upon.
Vic Zimmerman, superintendent of Monticello schools, says that fund represents 40 percent of his budget.
"Whereas the new school funding formula is awesome, it didn't help us at all. We certainly now have huge red numbers, because of the diversion to CPPRT and the estimate of this year compared to last year."
He's referring to an obscure fund called Corporate Personal Property Replacement Tax, created when local units of government gave up their power to tax businesses in 1979. Over the past few years, the state has also been using it to fund other obligations. This year, the money taken from local schools will go to agencies like the Department of Revenue, the Labor Relations Board and the property tax appeal board.
Southern Illinois districts that rely on the tax include Joppa-Maple Grove, Trico, Patoka and Red Bud.