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 — with the fate of the bill now in the hands of the Illinois House.
The Illinois Senate voted 38-19 for the override, with one Republican voting in line with Democrats. The Illinois House has 15 days to act on an override, but the Senate on Sunday also passed a backup bill should the House fail. That, however, would restart the clock on solving the school funding mess.
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 of the veto 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.
Rauner’s office contends CPS would lose $242 million under the veto — not counting the CPS pension pickup of $221 million.
The governor’s veto removed millions from what CPS would have received in the initial bill and redistributes funds to other districts. But Democrats contend districts with declining enrollment could lose money in the next few years under his changes.
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During the override debate, bill sponsor 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.”
But 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 — with Republicans pushing for a private school voucher program, among other requests.
“You keep bringing items that were not even a part of the governor’s amendatory veto,” Lightford said. “We’re talking about things that have zero to do with discussions that we’ve had for the last three years.”
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.
Despite the override, both Manar and the governor have publicly said they’re open to negotiating further on school funding reform.
Manar said his goal is to preserve adequacy and equity within the funding plan, while also asking Republicans to bring their ideas to the table now in order to gain their support. But he also pinned blame on Rauner for a lack of urgency with negotiations. Rauner, in turn, has blamed Democrats for not sending him the bill sooner.
Manar said the need for an override was driven by a lack of negotiations in June and July.
“That only happened after the governor allowed Republicans to sit at the table with us and have those negotiations, and I think in a very short period of time, we’ve made significant progress,” Manar said.
Earlier, Rauner urged lawmakers to uphold his changes, but said he’s open to “compromise on any issue.”
“I am here to find solutions, compromises that work that are fair and balanced,” Rauner said. “Everything could be on the table but we don’t have the luxury of waiting.”
Saturday’s analysis found 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.
Asked about whether he knew how CPS would fare when issuing his amendatory veto, the governor said he was working with “approximations.”
“No, I didn’t know exactly what the numbers would be. I had an approximation. You guys know I went out and did — our team did some rough approximations,” Rauner said. “Virtually every number we estimated was off. Some were higher, some were lower. Most were actually higher than I thought, a few were lower. This is very complicated. Very complicated.”
But he said the numbers prove the “vast majority” of needy districts would get more.
“It shows that for years the state has been sending money to Chicago at the expense of the rest of the state,” the governor said.