Rauner only supports 90% of school funding bill

Secretary of education says he will veto

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Just as one lawmaker thought the General Assembly broke a 20-year old school funding formula, Governor Rauner's secretary of education says he'll veto it. Beth Purvis says he only supports 90% of it.

Some lawmakers argue, 90% is a fair deal and Senator Andy Manar (D) says most rational people would accept this agreement and move on. 

Still more than 850 school districts in the state are anticipating a revamped formula to change how their schools are funded, but one thing is standing in the way of that becoming a reality. 

"They took the bill that was being worked on and put on a massive amendment on it with a huge bailout for the city of Chicago. Hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars extra special treatment for the city of Chicago," said Governor Bruce Rauner.

He argues the amendment unfairly benefits Chicago Public Schools. The bill would put $215 million into Chicago's pension system and continue paying another $250 million from an old block grant. 

"It's not fair so I said take that amendment, take the bail out of the bill. Let's do the real pure bill that Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have been working on and, if we do that, we can get to a good place in education funding," said Rauner.

Senator Manar says CPS won't lose that money, but he won't call it a block grant. Supporter want the state to fund CPS' pensions the way it funds all other school districts. Organizations like the Association of School Administrations say, while the bill is not perfect, it's the best they've seen in 20 years. 

"The General Assembly passed significant school funding reform to fix the most inequitable school funding system in the United States so 90% to me sounds pretty good," said Mike Chamness, director of communications for the Illinois Association of School Administrators. 

What both parties can agree on in this bill is how there wouldn't any losers. Under the bill, no district will get less money that it already gets. 

"Oftentimes in politics, 'perfect' is the enemy of good and in this case perfect's the enemy of really good," said Chamness. 

The bill is not on the governor's desk yet; a move Democrats are playing in case Rauner reconsiders and signs a major piece of legislation many agree is overdue. But even if this bill is signed, it won't work without a budget. This funding formula legislation does not appropriate money. In order for this to play out, the state needs more than $500 million. 


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