Gov. Bruce Rauner said Monday that the Illinois Senate made a “terrible mistake” by overriding his amendatory veto of a school funding plan.
Rauner vowed to reach a bipartisan compromise — though he may not get the chance, if the Illinois House also votes to override.
“I work for the children of Chicago… but I work for the children of the suburbs, too,” Rauner said.
Rauner made the remarks at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, 3701 W. Ogden Ave., where he signed House Bill 2663, which protects children who are of pre-school age and who are enrolled in early childhood programs and schools that receive state funding from being expelled.
Under the bill, the Department of Children and Family Services is supposed to develop rules that would keep licensed day care providers from expelling children for showing challenging behavior. Among the backers of the bill is the Ounce of Prevention Fund; Diana Rauner, the governor’s wife, is president of that group.
Diana Rauner attended the bill signing. Also attending were the bill’s chief sponsors, State Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, and Rep. Juliana Stratton, D-Chicago. Stratton recently was named the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker.
“Preschool should be a time when we invest in more resources for our children’s growth and development,” Stratton said. “It should not be a time when providers expel children due to perceived behavioral issues.”
Pre-K advocates cited a nationwide study that found Illinois preschoolers were expelled at a rate three times that of K-12 students, and minority children were suspended at even higher rates. Gov. Rauner said the new standards would apply to any school that receives state funds, meaning thousands of providers across the state.
“We need to focus and create opportunity for every child and never give up on anybody — ever,” Rauner said.
The pre-K bill came one day after senators voted to override the governor’s education funding plan, with one Republican voting in line with Democrats. The Illinois House now has 14 days to act on an override.
Rauner expressed his frustration with the Senate, saying: “It was a very disappointing day yesterday for the children of Illinois. I think the Senate made a terrible mistake.”
Illinois State Board of Education analysis released last week said Chicago Public Schools would receive $463 million less in funding this next school year under under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s funding plan than the measure approved by the Democrat-controlled Illinois General Assembly.
“I don’t want to hurt Chicago schools,” the governor said.
“My veto was designed to make the system fair and make sure every school district in the state is treated the same way,” he added. “You’ll hear some elected officials here in Chicago say my veto is because I don’t care about Chicago, or I’m anti-Chicago … Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Rauner blamed “financial mismanagement” for CPS’ budget woes — citing, for example, tax-increment-financing districts that divert property taxes from the school district. He also criticized Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose law firm handles property-tax appeals. Madigan’s role in a property tax system that dictates the CPS funding formula is a conflict of interest, Rauner said.
“It’s a lose-lose,” he said. “The children in Chicago have been losing, and now children across the state. We need to treat everybody equitably on that.”
Rauner said he has authorized Republicans in the House to help lead a bipartisan effort, just as Madigan has for the Democrats — but Rauner said he doubted Democrats had a “sincere interest” in compromise.
The governor said he suspects Madigan will pressure Republicans in the House to override his veto, using tactics from last month’s budget stalemate, which Rauner called “ruthless, coldhearted, mean-spirited.”
He also responded to Sen. Sam McCann R-Plainview, who is mulling a run against Rauner in the March primary and who joined Democrats to back the override on Sunday.
McCann had criticized the governor’s involvement in the school funding process, saying there is “one thing worse than one-party control, and that is one-man control.”
Rauner’s tactic Monday was to use that to take another dig at Madigan, though he didn’t refer to him by name.
“We have had one-person rule in the state of Illinois for decades, and it ain’t me,” Rauner said. “His own party is scared of him.”
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown responded to the criticism Monday. “This attack mode doesn’t seem to be getting [Rauner] anywhere,” he said. “These comments — these blunders — demonstrate his ineptness. Frankly, he’s inept.”