Illinois Senate overrides Rauner’s school funding veto

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Senate on Sunday moved quickly to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of a school funding measure he’s declared a Chicago bailout.

The Illinois Senate voted 38-19 for the override.  The Illinois House now has 15 days to act on an override.

The school funding fight has been in the forefront for weeks. State aid payments to school districts were to be sent out on Aug. 10 — but the state needs an “evidence-based” school funding formula approved before it can release those funds, per an agreement Democratic leaders inserted into a budget package.

The vote came a day after the Illinois State Board of Education released an analysis that found Chicago Public Schools would receive $463 million less in funding this next school year under Rauner’s funding plan than the measure approved by the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly.

State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said Rauner’s veto takes away money from CPS — “one of the largest [districts] in the state that educates children that live in poverty to give to other school districts that educate children that live in poverty.”

Manar said Rauner’s veto does not create a system that creates equity and doesn’t lead to “greater advocacy for public education.”

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, urged senators to vote against the override, saying he wants further negotiations to discuss the measure’s “inequities.”

“We need honest brokers on both sides of the aisle,” Barickman said.

State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, spoke of her frustrations over negotiations with Republicans.  There have been bipartisan talks happening for weeks regarding school funding — with Republicans requesting a private school voucher program, among other requests.

“How do you negotiate without answering questions of the person your’e negotiating with?” Lightford. “…You keep bringing items that were not even a part of the governor’s amendatory veto. We’re talking about things that have zero to do with discussions that we’ve had for the last three years. You keep asking for things and not wanting to compromise on anything else.”

State Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, who is mulling a run against Rauner in the March primary, criticized the governor’s involvement in the school funding process and said he voted yes for the override.  Of the governor, McCann said there is “one thing worse than one party control and that is one man control.”

“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.

Earlier, Rauner urged lawmakers to uphold his changes, but said he’s open to “compromise on any issue” should the Senate override.

But the governor said his amendatory veto is the right plan: “This is what fair and equitable funding looks like,” Rauner said.

On Saturday after the analysis was released, the Rauner administration stressed that nearly all of the state’s 852 school districts would receive more funding under the governor’s plan than under Senate Bill 1.

Saturday’s analysis concludes that each school district would get more in “base minimum funding” than they did this past year under the current school funding formula. But 20 districts, including CPS, would get less funding than they would receive with the Senate bill.

Release of the highly anticipated analysis of the amendatory veto was delayed earlier this week on — with the state Board of Education contending that the Illinois Department of Revenue reported a “significant error” regarding tax-increment-financing data.

TIF districts were created to promote economic development in blighted areas with any growth in property taxes going to specific purposes, such as infrastructure, public improvements and developer subsidies — but not education.

In both the original measure passed by lawmakers and the governor’s amendatory veto, the value of property in the district would play a role in how much money school districts get.

The Senate measure offers up a credit to school districts that have access to TIFs (Chicago has 145) — it’s used as part of the formula. But the amendatory veto wipes that out.

Critics of the veto contend TIF districts would look wealthier than they actually are. A hold harmless provision would ensure districts don’t lose any money than they already get, but it could mean they’re in line to get less money from an increase in school funding.

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