Rauner Threatens To Cut Part Of School-Funding Bill

Elias Hubbard
July 18, 2017

Democrats have delayed sending it along.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner said on Monday he intends to block money earmarked for Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) teacher pensions under recent legislation because he feels it is too much of a "bailout" for a badly managed system.

Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for CPS, said that if Rauner does use his power to strike the part of the bill that changes how Chicago schools are funded, the move would not pass "legal muster, and instead jeopardize the opening for dozens of school districts around the state".

Principals of Chicago's schools will get their first look at the budgets for their schools on Thursday, and for the third year in a row, those spending plans will rely on hundreds of millions of dollars that Rauner has vowed to veto.

Rauner objects to specific state-funding allowances for Chicago schools on top of a new requirement that the state pick up the employer's portion of teacher pensions costs for them - the way it does for every other IL district. These reforms include mandating that the majority of all money in SB 1 will go to statewide school districts serving a majority of students from families with low income.

The bill establishes an evidence-based model that ties public school funding to "best practices" aimed at enhancing student achievement.

With little more than a month until many school districts open their doors, Springfield still hasn't finalized a school funding plan.

Rauner accused Democratic legislative leaders of holding on to the bill to force a crisis.

The governor, surrounded by several local Republican lawmakers, said he will remove a "poison pill" in the bill that would require the state to pick up the employer's portion of teacher pensions costs for the Chicago Public Schools, something the state does for all other IL school districts. The governor's office disputed that assertion.

"It's good for Lake County, it's good for every school district in the state of IL, and the new formula will direct these new resources to students across IL who need them the most and need that assistance first and foremost", says Brian Harris, superintendent for Barrington School District 220.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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