K-12 Schools To Receive $5.2B In State Money; Rauner Calls For Funding Bill By Monday

Jul 21, 2017

The state schools superintendent says in a memo to local administrators that the state will issue $5.2 billion it controls even if there's no revised financing system signed into law.

Credit Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

The Democratic Legislature approved a state budget that requires Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner to distribute general state aid through a new “evidence-based'' method to ensure money gets to the neediest schools. But the method is in separate legislation it hasn't sent to Rauner.

Tony Smith is superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education. He says in a memo obtained by The Associated Press that $6.7 billion must be distributed under the evidence-based model not in law. But the state board will issue $5.2 billion in other state and federal funding in any event. 

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner had called for Democrats to send the new school funding bill to his desk by noon Monday. Otherwise, he says he’ll call lawmakers back for a special session.  

"This is historic legislation. It's good legislation,” he said. “It helps the children in Chicago just like the children in Auburn and the children in Decatur. And Danville. And all over the state of Illinois.”

The new state budget requires this revamped funding formula, but Rauner plans to veto certain parts of the plan.

Rauner promises every school district -- except Chicago -- lots more money if he gets to veto portions of the Democrats' bill. He calls that plan a "Chicago bailout," because it gives their public schools credit for unfunded teacher pension liability. 

But a third of the dollars he plans to give downstate districts come straight out of the Chicago Public Schools block grant, which Rauner plans to cut by $200 million. ​

Democrats say Rauner should call a leaders meeting instead.​

  • Illinois Public Radio's Dusty Rhodes and The Associated Press contributed to this report.