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Rauner Vetoes $250 Million For Chicago Public Schools

By Heather Cherone | August 1, 2017 10:29am | Updated on August 1, 2017 1:45pm
 Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday
Gov. Bruce Rauner Tuesday
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Facebook/Gov. Bruce Rauner

CHICAGO — Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed on Tuesday part of a bill that would give the Chicago Public Schools $250 million more in state money, saying it amounted to a bailout of mismanaged Chicago schools.

The Republican governor has said the school-funding bill — which was passed by both the House and Senate — "diverts money from classrooms across the state" to pay for Chicago teachers' pensions, which he said have been mismanaged for years.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the math Rauner based his action on was "fuzzy."

"His claims have been proven false, and the only thing the governor's action advances is his own personal brand of cynical politics," Emanuel said. "It is well past time for Gov. Rauner to stop playing politics with our children’s futures, start demonstrating leadership and ensure a child's education isn't determined by their ZIP code or his political whims.”

Schools expect to start receiving state funds by Aug. 10, and many suburban and Downstate districts start classes just a few days later.

Before Rauner announced his veto, Democratic lawmakers asked Rauner to hold off and let negotiations that took place Monday and Tuesday morning continue.

The Illinois House and Senate must now act to either affirm Rauner's changes — or reject them. Until the General Assembly acts, schools will get no state funding, threatening the ability of some districts to open on time and remain open the entire school year.

Rauner said the changes included in his amendatory veto are designed to ensure school funding is “fair and equitable to all children.”

“Our kids deserve better," Rauner said. "We have to do better.”

Rauner also yanked an additional $215 million that had been earmarked to pay the pensions for Chicago teachers from the school funding bill as it heads back to the General Assembly.

The new school funding formula "unfairly diverted hundreds of millions of dollars to Chicago" away from school districts, including those in Springfield, Decatur, Rockford, Waukegan and Aurora, where the number of low-income students is rising, Rauner said.

"I care deeply about the families in Chicago, the low-income students in Chicago," Rauner said. "But all Illinois students deserve to be treated fairly."

No school district would have lost any money under the bill.

Those funds would need to be approved as part of changes to the statewide pension system, if Rauner's partial veto is ratified by state legislators. But his changes need approval from three-fifths of lawmakers or the entire bill dies.

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 — Senate Bill 1 — becomes law, officials said.

The legislation passed both the Illinois House and Senate, but without veto-proof majorities. The Legislature has 15 days to act on the bill before it dies.

Emily Bittner, a spokeswoman for CPS, had warned that if Rauner vetoed 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 has said repeatedly Chicago schools will open Sept. 5 as scheduled — regardless of Rauner's actions.

The spending plans for Chicago schools released last week rely on the $250 million vetoed by Rauner.

A statement from the Chicago Teachers Union blamed both Emanuel and Rauner for the dispute.

"Rauner should drop the charade of governing and provide Chicago’s students their fair share of funding, while [Emanuel] should lead by example and pass real tax increment financing (TIF) reform and reinstate the corporate head tax," the union said in a statement.


CPS School Budgets: Here's What Every School Is Getting For 2017-2018

CPS Will Spend More Cash On Kids Next Year — Whether Rauner Likes It Or Not

Read Rauner's full veto message:

Rauner Veto Message by Heather Cherone on Scribd