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When you get 90 percent, declare victory

Gov. Bruce Rauner and Education Secretary Beth Purvis (left) want a school funding reform bill to be less generous to Chicago Public Schools. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times file

If you can get 90 percent in politics, you take it and do a victory dance. Unless, perhaps, you are Gov. Bruce Rauner.

On Friday, Rauner’s secretary of education, Beth Purvis, said the governor supports “90 percent” of a bill passed by Democrats in the state Legislature to make school funding fairer in Illinois. But, she said, he wants more.

We can only wonder, as we have before, about the governor’s notions when it comes to compromise.

Sign the bill when it reaches your desk, governor. Grab a win.


The new school funding formula would adhere to principles laid out by a bipartisan school funding reform commission led by Purvis. And if the bill is not a  custom fit with the governor’s own preferences for school financing, it’s worth noting he could have directed the commission to write specific legislation, but he did not.

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A grand opportunity for the ‘education governor’ of Illinois

Grand bargain better help school kids

Democrats, led by Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, produced a bill that spares schools serving poor kids, as well as children with special needs, from automatic cuts when the state fails to come up with all the money it promises schools. New revenue would go toward educating kids who need extra help.

Purvis told the Springfield State-Journal Register that Rauner is prepared to veto the bill because it gives too much to Chicago Public Schools. She pointed specifically to some $215 million CPS would get to make a pension payment, plus a block grant worth more than $200 million.

But CPS is the only district paying its own pensions. Helping CPS with that payment creates more parity between CPS and other Illinois school districts.

And because the bill carries over funding levels from last year to establish the bare minimum funding for the 2017-18 school year, the Legislature had to include the value of the CPS block grant or the district would be the sole loser in the bill. Eighty percent of CPS students are economically disadvantaged.

Politics is the art of the imperfect, where 90 percent can make for an excellent deal.

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