Rauner calls for support of school funding changes

On Tuesday, the governor used his amendatory veto power to remove a $250 million block grant for CPS from the legislation, and change how the state’s new school funding formula weights pension money for CPS when distributing money for all schools, among other changes.

The nation’s fifth-largest state, which recently ended a record-setting two-year budget impasse when schools were fully funded, now faces a new financial crisis triggered by Republican Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of a Democratic-backed school-funding overhaul.

Despite SB 1 proponents constantly emphasizing “fairness” as a primary motivator for passing the bill, the new funding formula kept special subsidies in place that allowed select districts to look poorer than they actually are when applying for state aid – particularly CPS.

Rauner’s veto comes less than a month after the resolution of a two-year standoff between the governor and the legislature that left the state without a permanent budget and with billions of dollars of unpaid bills. “I am confident the House and Senate will support a clean school funding bill that puts more money in the classroom for our students”.

Accepting or rejecting Rauner’s vetoes would require a super-majority vote – meaning Democrats and at least some Republicans will have to agree. Republicans say the grant provides more money than Chicago would receive if the amount were calculated based on enrollment – the way other districts get certain funds. Unit 5 business manager Marty Hickman said the district’s doors will “open as scheduled” on August 16.

Rauner on Tuesday also vowed to continue to travel throughout the state to defend his rewrite of the bill, similar to trips he made primarily to Downstate communities to label the Democratic-led measure a “Chicago bailout”.

But it remains unclear exactly how much money the city’s schools would get under Rauner’s partial veto. “And my changes ensure that the education funding system in our state is fair and equitable to all students in IL”.

If Rauner makes changes and legislators can’t muster enough votes to approve or override them, the legislation dies.

The state will pay for the normal cost of Chicago teacher pensions going forward. This creates a situation where Chicago residents are paying twice: once through their property taxes for Chicago schools and again through their income taxes for every other district in IL.

Simply, it is not fair to give CPS more than its fair share at the expense of our school districts and others around the state which are also struggling financially.

Rauner calls the $221 million set aside in SB1 for CPS pension relief a “bailout”.

Legislators across IL, in the interest of bipartisan cooperation, equitable school funding, students, and the greater public good, must vote to override the governor’s amendatory veto of SB1. “If it was just the one year, we’d probably split it, but this is just the first year”.

As Chicago’s enrollment continues to drop, the “hold harmless” provision will ensure the district gets more money than its enrollment says it should.

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