Governor uses veto pen on school funding bill

On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings warned Rauner’s amendatory veto threatened to deprive schools of state aid payments before their openings this month and could result in downgrades for some Illinois’ school districts, including junk-rated Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

To do that, a couple of issues had to be addressed: the funding of teacher pension plans and a block grant going to the Chicago Public Schools.

The fact-checking group Politifact Illinois today said Rauner’s “bailout” tag is “false”, but he scoffed at that assessment.

Emanuel says lawmakers’ loyalties ought to be with school children in their home districts, not the governor.

Once the governor takes action, the legislature can either accept his changes or try to override them.

“It is infuriating that even after getting 90 percent of what he wanted in our education funding reform plan, Governor Rauner chose to put regional politics ahead of our children’s futures”.

The fate of the bill now rests with Democrats who control the General Assembly.

It could override the veto, causing the original bill to pass, or it could pass the governor’s recommendations, which includes stripping funding to Chicago’s pension. Chicago Public Schools will receive $495 million of that $778 million, which is 64 percent of the new money for education though they have only 19 percent of the students in IL.

Senate Bill 1 is still the solution.

Rauner’s veto introduced new issues that are now at play.

“I think we see progress every step of the way”.

The budget bill that was passed was also booby trapped, as it holds school funding hostage, and thus our work is not yet done as the General Assembly is now awaiting action on SB1.

“The only stumbling block is time”, said state Sen. State Sen. Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, says a veto of the bill sets the state “back decades”. Rauner’s plan would switch how funding is calculated starting in 2021, moving from a per-district to per-pupil basis, meaning that schools that lose students would receive less funding.

School funding is in jeopardy because state lawmakers purposely made state aid dependent on the separate passage of a new school funding formula when they passed the fiscal year 2018 budget, which also included the largest permanent income tax hike in IL history.

“If partial tax payments are released by August 21, we should have funding to get us through part of September”. He says their schools may open on time, but depending on cash-flow problems, they might run out of money a month or so later. Donkin said this was also to help some districts reduce property taxes for residents while still being able to make up this cost through state funding.

State money to public schools across IL could be cut off due to yet another budget impasse between lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner.

“All of our children should be treated equitably”.

Matt Donkin, superintendent of West Frankfort School District 168, said he anticipated the amendatory veto and was disappointed by it, but what shocked him was the scope. To win re-election, Rauner will need heavy support from those two Republican-leaning areas to counteract the typically large Chicago Democratic vote.

In a press release the governor said, “It doesn’t matter where you come from or who your family is”.

Illinois’ education funding formula was called one of the most inequitable in the nation in 2015 by The Education Trust, a nonprofit advocacy organization, saying too much money goes to wealthy districts. However, Donkin said with Rauner’s veto this adequacy target stays static. Education groups like Stand for Children (which was, ironically enough, brought to IL by then-private citizen Bruce Rauner) have been advertising locally to back the plan.

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