Gov. Rauner threatens to veto Illinois school funding bill over Chicago pensions

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Illinois school districts are in serious danger of starting the school year on time or even at all, Governor Bruce Rauner said Thursday.

“What’s happening is our school funding for this year, August and September, that bill to fund that is being held up Speaker Madigan,” Rauner said.

As part of the new budget, school funding is to be allocated based upon a new evidence-based model. Senate Bill 1 is the model that needs to be signed. Governor Rauner said it passed the Illinois House and Senate six weeks ago, but has not been sent to his desk for his signature.

“They’re sitting on it, holding it until August to force a crisis to force taxpayers of Illinois to fund a bailout of Chicago pensions,” he said.

The governor said school districts such as Belleville, Edwardsville, Collinsville, and Granite City will have millions of dollars taken away from them over time and given to Chicago pensions.

“We need to get it to my desk. I will veto it, take out the pension part, leave the rest in, and then we can get schools open,” Rauner said.

Illinois Representative Jerry Costello (D-East St. Louis) said every superintendent he is aware of supports the current SB1.

“While (Gov. Rauner) calls SB1 a Chicago bailout, it’s simply untrue,” Costello said. “In the bill over 260 of the 860 school districts in the state of Illinois receive more funding than Chicago."

Illinois Representative Katie Stuart (D-Collinsville) said she believes the bill could be “fairer for local schools.”

“The state has a responsibility to pay its fair share of education for our local schools," she said.

However, Stuart adds the governor needs to negotiate a better deal for all schools. One thing’s for sure: the clock is ticking and no funding is scheduled for Illinois schools.