CHICAGO (CBS) — The Illinois Senate voted Sunday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of public education funding in Illinois, rejecting changes that would mean hundreds of millions of dollars less for Chicago Public Schools.
Democrats called it a bipartisan vote, but just one Republican joined 37 Democrats in the override.
Hours before the votes were counted, Rauner implored senators to uphold his veto. He has contended Senate Bill 1 as it was written amounts to a bailout for CPS at the expense of other districts across Illinois.
“They have a choice. Are they gonna vote to give their school districts more money, or are they gonna vote to give a bailout to the city of Chicago?” Rauner said.
An analysis by the Illinois State Board of Education showed Rauner’s veto would remove $463 million in state funding for CPS, while giving other districts like Elgin, Rockford, and Waukegan millions more.
Most Republicans defended the governor.
“All we’re asking for is that the city of Chicago’s public schools be treated no better; that our vote not reflect that we think that kids there are more important than they are in the rest of our districts,” said Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon).
However, Sen. Sam McCann (R-Plainveiw) — who has bitterly criticized the governor, and has said he is considering whether to challenge Rauner in the GOP primary – broke ranks with Republicans, calling for political courage.
“Are we going to fear the governor? Are we going to fear his political operatives? Are we going to fear his money and his friends’ money? Or are we going to fear the mirror?” McCann said.
The override now puts the fate of school funding in the hands of the Illinois House, where Democrats will need much more help from Republicans to produce an override.
“I think when it comes to putting the kids first, some of them may change their mind. I’m hopeful,” said Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago).
The House was scheduled to convene Wednesday to consider the governor’s veto. If the House does not override the governor, the education funding legislation dies.