CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner vowed again Monday to veto part of a bill that would give the Chicago Public Schools $300 million more in state money — and ordered lawmakers to return to Springfield to revise — again — the way schools are funded in Illinois.
The Republican governor demanded that the Democratic-controlled Illinois Senate send him Senate Bill 1, or SB1, by noon Monday — reiterating his warning that if the bill doesn't get to his desk soon, schools may not open as scheduled in the fall. When Democrats failed to meet the governor's deadline, Rauner called the second special session of the year.
Rauner and the Republican leaders of the House and Senate accused Democrats of "playing political games" designed to create a crisis.
"Our children must be our top priority," Rauner said.
The special session for lawmakers will start Wednesday, and Rauner demanded that the Legislature pass a new bill by July 31. Schools expect to start receiving state fund by Aug. 10, and many suburban and downstate districts start classes just a few days later.
The school funding bill — which was passed by both the House and Senate — "diverts money from classrooms" to pay for Chicago teachers' pensions, which have been mismanaged for years, Rauner said.
Rauner again said he plans to issue an amendatory veto that would remove the $300 million the legislation would send to CPS to cover current and past-due pension payments, which amounts to a "bailout of Chicago’s broken teacher pension system" that the governor's office said would take "away critical resources from school districts across the state."
However, none of Illinois school districts would have their state funding cut under the new formula, and Rauner did not respond to a reporter's question during a news conference at the Thompson Center Monday morning when asked to provide evidence for his statement, which Democratic leaders say is inaccurate.
The recently approved $36 billion state budget included an additional $350 million for kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms. But no state education funding can be spent until the legislation outlining how that money is to be spent — SB1 — is approved, officials said.
The legislation passed both the Illinois House and Senate, but without veto-proof majorities.
Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for CPS, said that if Rauner does use his power to strike the part of the bill that changes how Chicago schools are funded, the move would not pass "legal muster and instead jeopardize the opening for dozens of school districts around the state."
Emanuel, who has been at odds over state funding for CPS with Rauner since November, said the "governor has failed the state."
The legislation Rauner has threatened to veto "treats all students equally."
Principals of Chicago's schools have until Thursday to submit their budgets to district officials, and for the third year in a row, those spending plans rely on hundreds of millions of dollars that Rauner has vowed to veto.