Rauner wants school funding bill on his desk, now

ILLINOIS (WCIA) -- Central Illinois' school districts could see a lot more money headed their way. Governor Bruce Rauner wants to use his power of an amendatory veto to make some changes to Senate Bill one.

Instead of millions of dollars going to pay Chicago teachers' pensions, he wants that money sent to other districts in need. The bill is not yet on his desk, but he's demanding Democrats send it over before it's too late.

"You're not supposed to just be loyal to Speaker Madigan and do what he orders you to do," said Rauner. 

Governor Rauner is calling on Democratic leaders to put politics aside and send Senate bill one to his desk immediately; it's the school funding reform bill which passed the General Assembly weeks ago.

"Don't threaten our students with your extortion tactics that you've been using for years against the people of Illinois, Speaker Madigan, President Cullerton, stop it."

"You've got some school districts that have better cash reserves than others. Some don't have any cash reserves and they might not open," said Representative Bill Mitchell of Decatur. "We don't want to play politics with education. For once in our life, let's just do the job."

If Rauner's changes go through, it would give an additional $1.5 million to Decatur Public Schools; $173,000 to Champaign and more than $650,000 to Springfield District 186.

"Step in and stop and ask yourself that simple question: 'Why would any legislator who represents this county, not fight for every last penny? Every last penny for the kids here in Macon County and Central Illinois,'" said Senator Chapin Rose. 

If the bill reaches Rauner's desk, his next biggest challenge will be getting bipartisan support. Just a few weeks ago, several GOP members crossed him and voted for a tax hike and budget.

Rauner says that's why he needs this bill sooner rather than later.

"Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton, they're basically sitting on the bill and they're going to wait to the last minute until schools open next week. You better sign SB 1 and that's what they'll do."

Democratic Senator Andy Manar, who is the lead sponsor on SB 1 says Rauner's demands won't get him votes and says he's never been contacted directly to talk about any changes to the bill. He said in a statement, he's deeply disappointed Rauner went to the media instead of sitting down with him.

It's up to Speaker Madigan to call back the General Assembly to take action on the school funding bill. Democrats say they've been holding on to it because of Rauner's threats to veto it. 


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