Rauner Demands School Funding Bill Now


Unlike all other IL public school districts, which participate in a state-subsidized teachers' retirement system, CPS has its own pension fund, which receives minimal funding from the state. The bi-partisan Senate bill 1 fixes what many say is a decades-old broken education funding system.

That, plus the $505.8 million reduction in the bill's assessment of Chicago's local fundraising capabilities based on its unfunded pension liability, is what Rauner said led to his decision to issue an amendatory veto.

Rauner says that he plans to veto that newly devised school funding method and that could jeopardize the start of school.

"Governor Rauner's stunt won't pass legal muster, and instead jeopardizes the opening for dozens of school districts around the state", CPS spokewoman Emily Bittner said in a statement, adding that an amendatory veto would change "a fundamental goal of the legislation" - a power not granted by the Constitution.

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Emanuel has said Chicago schools will open September 5 as scheduled - regardless of what Rauner does.

In fiscal 2016, some 119 school districts relied on state money for 50 percent to as much as 71.5 percent of their budgets, according to Illinois State Board of Education data. The governor emphasized on several occasions that his amendatory veto would allow more money to be made available for districts across the state. John Patterson, spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, said discussions on releasing the legislation were ongoing.

The budget approved last week, when lawmakers over rode Governor's Bruce Rauner's veto, includes a $350 million dollar boost for schools.

"I can not stress how important it is to address this issue now to ensure that our state's elementary, middle, and high schools open without interruption, with the resources they need", she said.

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Any protracted fight in Springfield over school funding would be devastating for local school districts, as the State Board of Education has told school districts that a funding plan must be approved by August 3 for normal payments to be sent to school districts by the start of the fall semester.

If Senate Bill 1 or some other funding formula bill doesn't become law, school leaders will again have to make up for some $300 million. That has raised the possibility some school districts largely dependent on state funding may not be able to open for classes next month.

"We would hope that a new plan could get passed in the near future so we could stay open and provide services to students", he said.

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