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Override Rauner's Veto Of School Funding Bill, Rahm Tells State Lawmakers

By  Heather Cherone and Alex Nitkin | August 22, 2017 4:12pm 

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on state lawmakers to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a school funding measure, which would mean $300 million more for the Chicago Public Schools.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on state lawmakers to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a school funding measure, which would mean $300 million more for the Chicago Public Schools.
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DNAinfo/Alex Nitkin

DUNNING — Mayor Rahm Emanuel Tuesday called on members of the Illinois House to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's partial veto of a bill that would give the Chicago Public Schools an additional $300 million, saying it was time for Springfield to close the "funding gap" between wealthy and poor school districts.

Calling the statewide school funding bill passed this spring by both the Illinois House and Senate "a bailout of mismanaged Chicago schools," Rauner vetoed the measure.

The Illinois Senate has already voted to override Rauner's veto, and the Illinois House is set to consider following suit Wednesday. Democratic and Republican leaders met for several hours Tuesday in an attempt to hammer out a compromise that would ensure that all school districts will start on time and remain open the entire school year.

It will take 71 votes in the Illinois House to override the Republican governor's veto — which would require at least four Republicans to cross the aisle and vote with the chamber's 67 Democrats.

Rahm pushed lawmakers to rebuke the governor and support the bill at an event at Canty Elementary School in Dunning designed to tout rising test scores for students learning to speak English.

But if that override effort fails, lawmakers would have to negotiate a new school formula bill that could include a measure backed by Roman Catholic Archbishop Blase Cupich designed to help families pay for private school tuition.

Emanuel declined to discuss what a new school-funding formula bill should look like, or whether it should include a voucher-like program also under consideration by the Trump administration. Earlier this month, Emanuel ducked questions about whether he would support such a measure.

"It's a little premature for me to talk about the construct of a bill. [But] I have one standard: To end the inequity of funding in Illinois as it relates to education,” Emanuel said.

In 2011, while running for mayor, Emanuel said he opposed a voucher bill then pending in the General Assembly.

"I’m open to also hearing ideas," Emanuel said. "But I’m not gonna continue as mayor of this city [and] allow Springfield when it comes to funding education to be dead-last and punish kids simply because of the color of their skin and the income of their parents. That is wrong and it has to end. And it will end."

That statement brought a furious response from the Chicago Teachers Union, which is fiercely opposed to any proposal that boosts vouchers for private schools.

"Vouchers are a double whammy aimed at the heart of public education, and to be frank, amount to stealing from the same Black and Brown children to whom he claims to be providing sanctuary and equity," said union President Karen Lewis.

Emanuel has said repeatedly Chicago schools will open Sept. 5 as scheduled — regardless of Rauner's actions.

In addition to the $300 million of state funds that hang in the balance, the Chicago Public School's budget for the 2017-18 school year relies on $269 million from the city that has yet to be approved by the City Council.

Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool have repeatedly declined to say where the new city money the school district needs would come from.

This is the third year that CPS has built its spending plan — which must be approved by Sept. 1, according to state law — on funds officials do not have in hand.

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