Chicago School Funding Remains An Obstacle To Deal Between Rauner, Democrats

Jul 17, 2017

Lawmakers approved a state budget more than a week ago, but that legislation requires enactment of a new school-funding plan.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner held news conferences Monday to “demand, not request” that the bill be sent to his desk so he can change it as he sees fit. Democrats have delayed sending it along.  

Rockton Mayor Dale Adams and State Sen. Dave Syverson back up Gov. Bruce Rauner at his news conference in Rockford
Credit Dana Vollmer / WNIJ

Democrats have passed such a plan through both chambers, but Rauner says he’ll veto parts of it because it gives too much money to Chicago Public Schools.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, sponsored the bill. He says his party wants to negotiate with the governor.

“We stand ready to have that conversation,” he said. “That’s the only way this is going to get solved, and I think it’s time that the governor take that approach.”

When the measure passed, it was a few votes shy of having a veto-proof majority, leading to speculation money could be tied up just as the new school year is set to begin.  

During a stop in Rockford, Rauner urged people to contact their state representatives, calling some of them out by name, including Litesa Wallace, D-Rockford. He wants Democrats to pressure House Speaker Michael Madigan into sending the education bill to his desk.

He told the group assembled at Galapagos Rockford Charter School that he wants to “deal with pensions separately. It’s its own challenge. It’s its own issue. We’ve advocated for pension reform. Michael Madigan refuses to deal with pension reform, but that’s its own subject. Don’t hold up school funding. Don’t hurt our children in Rockford.”

Rauner vows to use his amendatory veto power to remove funding for Chicago Public Schools pensions and redistribute it to school districts throughout the state. He offered up his calculations of what that would mean for some districts. For example, Rockford would receive nearly $5-million more in school funding. 

  • Dusty Rhodes, Dana Vollmer, and Susan Stephens contributed to this story.