Gov. Bruce Rauner is summoning lawmakers back to Springfield for four special sessions to begin Wednesday after his demand for Democrats to send over a school funding bill — so he can issue an amendatory veto — went unanswered.
Although the bill passed with bipartisan support on May 31, it still hasn’t been sent to the governor’s desk — with Illinois Senate President John Cullerton saying the delay was to allow “everyone to blow off some steam, politically speaking.”
But the governor for more than a week has decried the lag as a way Democratic leaders are playing political games with education.
While he’s called the bill, which includes a boost in money for Chicago Public Schools a “bailout,” CPS has said they’re banking on those funds in budget calculations.
The governor’s administration issued four proclamations for special sessions on Wednesday through Friday, and on Monday, July 31 — which Rauner declared his “deadline” to resolve the school funding mess.
Either way, the clock is ticking for schools across Illinois to get money to open on time this fall. A summons back to Springfield was expected, since Rauner has long said he’d veto the measure. If Rauner issues an amendatory veto, lawmakers would have to vote to override it or accept his changes. They could also do nothing, which would kill the measure.
According to a Rauner administration website, CPS will receive $145 million less under the amendatory veto than it would have received with the original bill. It would have received $293 million, but would receive $148 million in the reworked plan. The $145 million is not quite the $220 million Chicago wants to help pay for teacher pensions. The initial plan also included about $250 million in a special block grant.
According to the state’s education Secretary Beth Purvis, the veto will address CPS’ legacy pension costs and will address the governor’s “concern” that CPS should not receive both the block grant and the normal costs of pensions.
“He’s been very clear that CPS should get either normal costs or the block grant, but not both,” Purvis told the Sun-Times.
Purvis said the state wants the school funding bill sorted out by Aug. 1 — enough time for the Illinois State Board of Education to enact the new formula in time for a state aid payment due on Aug. 10.
Purvis said putting legacy costs and CPS’ normal cost of pension within the base formula diverts money from the state’s other districts. Purvis said the Illinois State Board of Education analysis of the Senate bill was given to the four legislative caucuses about a month ago — with the Rauner administration, and both Republican caucuses using the model to rework the numbers.
Rauner publicly said the CPS pension payment was the “vast bulk” of what he would take out in his veto.
“We need it on my desk and you will see,” the governor said Monday when asked about details of his amendatory veto.
“How many bills have they sent to my desk that I have vetoed? That doesn’t stop them. They’re playing political games,” Rauner said. “They want to create a crisis. They want to hurt our school children for their own political agenda in mid-August. That’s what’s going on.”
Prior to the special session call, Cullerton in a statement urged Rauner to “meet with the legislative leaders to make sure he understands what is in the historic school funding overhaul before it arrives on his desk.”
“He lashes out over what he calls a ‘Chicago bailout,’ but the same provision appears in his ‘plan.’ He calls Senate Bill 1 ‘historic’ and then says he will veto it immediately,” Cullerton said in a statement. “I’d like to have a conversation with Governor Rauner in hopes of getting some clarity as to exactly what is going on.”
Rauner said there’s no need for meetings: “I am happy to have discussions after the bill is on my desk. There is nothing to discuss.”