CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. Bruce Rauner has followed through on a threat to slash funding for Chicago Public Schools included in an education funding bill, a move that threatens state money for every district in Illinois.
The House and Senate approved the legislation two months ago. Senate Bill 1 would overhaul how the state distributes money for public schools, but Rauner has called the measure a “bailout” for CPS at the expense of other districts.
On Tuesday, the governor used his amendatory veto power to remove a $250 million block grant for CPS from the legislation, and change how the state’s new school funding formula weights pension money for CPS when distributing money for all schools, among other changes.
Rauner has called the legislation a bailout for past CPS pension problems.
“As written, Senate Bill 1 places the burden of the Chicago Public Schools’ broken teacher pension system on our rural and suburban school districts,” Rauner said in his veto message. “CPS’ pension crisis should be resolved in a separate forum that also addresses statewide pension reform.”
Democrats were quick to condemn Rauner’s veto.
“I’m disappointed in the governor’s rash action today,” Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-Chicago) said. “He has, in essence, vetoed school funding for every child in Illinois because of differences in this legislation that he himself has called marginal. This is another unnecessary conflict. I am committed to working swiftly to negotiate a solution as we near the start of the school year.”
Lawmakers now must vote either to accept Rauner’s changes to the legislation, or override. Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly have said they will try to override Rauner’s veto, and the Senate has 15 days to act. Once the Senate votes, the House then has 15 days to take up the veto.
While the legislation remains in limbo, state funding for all school districts in Illinois is being held up, with classes for some districts scheduled to start this week.
The legislation would change the way Illinois public schools are funded, by using what’s known as an “evidence-based” formula, which provides additional money for economically-disadvantaged districts without reducing funding for other districts.
A clause in the state budget lawmakers approved over Rauner’s veto last month would prevent schools from receiving state funding without the new “evidence-based” formula in place.
If an override vote were to fail in either the House or Senate, or if either chamber fails to act at all, the legislation would die, and lawmakers would have to start from scratch on a new education funding plan.
Without a school funding plan in place, some districts risk not being able to open in the fall, or having to close their doors in a matter of weeks.