Chicago schools budget counts on uncertain funding

Claudine Rigal
Août 14, 2017

The Democratic-controlled legislature, which passed the funding formula bill in May without a veto-proof majority, is scheduled to meet next week. A failure by the House and Senate to muster a required three-fifths majority vote to override or accept changes Rauner made to the bill would kill the measure.

"We encourage IL state representatives of both parties to listen to students, parents, teachers and school officials in their districts and vote to override Governor Rauner's veto of equitable school funding, as state senators of both parties just did".

The Illinois Senate voted Sunday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of school funding legislation, leaving the fate of the bill now in the hands of the House, which convenes Wednesday. "If state lawmakers can't agree on a solution immediately, they should enact the existing funding formula - as flawed as it may be - to ensure all schools can open on time, and resume negotiations on education funding reform separately".

Escalating pension payments have led to drained reserves, debt dependency and junk bond ratings for the nation's third-largest public school system.

The $5.7 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that began July 1 includes $300 million the state of IL would send the district under education funding legislation. Rauner issued an amendatory veto the next day, making changes that included removing hundreds of millions of dollars for Chicago Public Schools.

"The governor's veto could have cost our local schools millions of dollars in state aid and destroyed years of progress".

Ahead of the vote, state Sen. Andy Manar, called the Rauner plan "smoke and mirrors". It prohibited disbursing money unless it was done through a newly devised "evidence-based" model aimed at getting more money to the neediest school districts. Instead, he said the plan would hurt school districts throughout the state.

The governor is calling on state lawmakers to uphold his veto.

To advocates, the "hold harmless" provision means that Chicago can keep a grant it received for decades that represented what other districts were reimbursed for special education, transportation and more. Last week was the first time since the comptroller's office was created in the 1970s that the state didn't send the money on time.

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