Gov. Bruce Rauner is calling on the Illinois Senate to send him a school funding formula reform bill so he can veto out a section that would give Chicago Public Schools more money for its pension system.
The budget passed earlier this month withholds most school funding unless an "evidence-based funding formula" is also signed into law. A Democratic-backed bill, Senate Bill 1, passed both houses but hasn't been sent to the governor yet. A similar Republican effort that would give less money to Chicago's school system appears to be gaining little traction in the General Assembly.
“We have a chance to make history and adopt a new school funding plan that, for the first time, ensures all school districts in Illinois are equitably and adequately funded. Unfortunately, Democrats want to turn this historic opportunity into a bailout for the CPS pension system,” said Rauner at an event in Mt. Zion on Monday. “The point of this school reform bill is to help low income students across the state, including those in Chicago, get the education they deserve – not to bailout CPS’s mismanaged teacher pension system.”
Rauner said he would use his amendatory veto powers to take out a portion that would kick in extra money to Chicago Public Schools to boost its underfunded pension system. Chicago is the only school system in Illinois that funds its own pensions.
The bill is currently being held in the Senate by a procedural motion.
State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) is the chief sponsor of the bill. Manar criticized Rauner for never contacting him about his issues with the bill.
“Gov. Rauner promised to overhaul the worst school funding formula in the country to the benefit of all Illinois schoolchildren. He promised to be the education governor. Unfortunately, he is more interested in spouting divisive soundbites than in solving the real problems that grip Illinois," said Manar. "Given his repeated pledges to veto this historic and vitally important legislation – despite his reported support of 90 percent of what’s in the bill – of course we are doing everything we can to protect it from his poor judgement."
Senate Bill 1 would use a complex formula to determine how much money each school needs to educate every student. Under the formula, schools would see increased state funding, particularly schools in rural and lower-income areas.
If Rauner opts to issue an amendatory veto, it would take 71 votes in the House and 36 votes in the Senate to override and pass the bill as originally written by Democrats. In the House, this would mean at least 3 Republicans would need to vote with the majority party. The General Assembly could also vote to pass the bill as amended by the governor.