Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will veto a school funding bill as soon as it reaches his desk because it includes a bailout of the Chicago Public School pension system, an accusation fiercely refuted Monday by state Sen. Melinda Bush at a news conference in Gurnee.
The bill, Senate Bill 1, passed the legislature in May but has yet to be sent to the governor's desk.
"I totally disagree with the governor," Bush said Monday while surrounded by a group of Lake County school district leaders. "Stop blaming Chicago for the inadequacy of the funding system."
The bill changes the way state money is doled out in a new method, which leaders of school districts rich and poor alike say is more equitable.
Brian Harris, superintendent of Barrington Area Unit School District 220, said he supports the new evidence-based model.
"It was important to make sure there was no Robin Hood scenario going on," Harris said. "This is good for Barrington, for Lake County and for every school district in Illinois."
Connie Collins, superintendent of Round Lake Area School District 116, said it is urgent the governor signs the bill so districts could have the certainty to open their doors in time for the start of school next month. About 82.5 percent of District 116 students are from low-income families.
Rauner said in a news release Monday that the bill directs millions of dollars to CPS and away from other districts that would benefit under his plan. He intends to use his power to veto the bill and amend it to reduce the amount of money Chicago schools receive.
"It's not right to give CPS more than its equitable share at the expense of other struggling school districts," Rauner said. "That's not reform. It is the same old rigged politics that created this disgraceful system we are trying to fix."
Bush argues that every school district is treated the same under the bill. Rauner's concerns about Chicago getting more than their share is unfounded, she said, noting that 268 school districts would receive more money per pupil than CPS.
Time is running out for Rauner to act. Jason Lind, superintendent of Millburn School District 24 in Old Mill Creek, said if the governor doesn't sign the bill, the district will have to close its schools on April 1, 2018, or rely on neighboring districts to lend them money.