Senate overrides Rauner's veto of school funding plan

The Illinois Senate voted Sunday to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of a bill to reform the state's school funding formula.

Senate Bill 1, a Democratic plan passed by the legislature in May, would change the way state money is distributed to schools using a new method proponents say is more equitable.

But the Republican governor, who called the measure a "bailout" for Chicago Public Schools, issued an amendatory veto to reduce the amount of state money given to Chicago schools this year by $423 million compared with the bill as written. Rauner's plan would then increase funding for 831 other school districts, including some in the suburbs, according to an analysis released by his office Saturday.

"Our plan shows what true fairness and equity in education funding looks like and just how badly change is needed in our current system," Rauner said Sunday in a news conference ahead of the Senate vote. "It shows that for years, the state has been sending money to Chicago at the expense of the rest of the state."

The Senate did not agree, passing a motion to override Rauner's veto in a 38-19 vote Sunday, with several suburban lawmakers favoring the school funding bill without the governor's changes.

The motion to override the governor's veto now moves to the House, which convenes Wednesday. There, an override, which also requires a three-fifths majority vote, is less certain

With the legislation still in limbo, the State Board of Education couldn't release the first state-aid payment, due Aug. 10. Many public school districts are scheduled to open this week or next week. None has indicated it won't open, but most say they can't hold class all year without state money.

Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, called Rauner's plan "shortsighted," saying it would be financially devastating to school districts statewide.

"Senate Bill 1 is the only plan that ensures no Illinois schools lose funding," she said in a statement. "Hundreds of superintendents, educators and advocacy groups have come out in support of the SB1 because it's a fair and equitable plan that would provide long-term stability and certainty to our schools."

Some legislators said the bill will allow schools to open on time and receive adequate funding to operate this academic year. If legislation isn't passed, school districts won't receive the $6.67 billion in state money that is tied to the passage of a new funding formula.

"This was not only the most beneficial reform brought forth this legislative session; it is also the most necessary," said Sen. Cristina Castro, an Elgin Democrat.

Republican Sen. Tom Rooney of Rolling Meadows supported Rauner's veto, saying Senate Bill 1 caters toward one district and ignores the needs of suburban and downstate schools. Rooney, a teacher at Leyden High School District 212, also criticized the two-month delay between lawmakers passing the bill and sending it to the governor's office.

"What we're saying is that everybody in this state needs to be treated equally. Nobody's special," he said. "That's a message anybody should be able to understand."

Sen. Dan McConchie, a Hawthorn Woods Republican, also voted against the override and urged legislators to continue negotiating a bipartisan solution.

Under Rauner's state funding reform plans, more than 97 percent of Illinois school districts would receive more funding than what's proposed in Senate Bill 1, according to an Illinois State Board of Education analysis.

Waukegan Unit District 60, for example, would receive $6.6 million more. East Aurora Unit District 131 would receive an additional $5.3 million, and West Aurora Unit District 129 would get $4.2 million more.

Elgin-Area School District U-46 would see the largest jump in funding - $12.8 million - from the bill as written to Rauner's plan. "It's incredible for Elgin, a district that has a huge amount of poverty and does not have property tax wealth," Rauner said. "The numbers show that our plan sends more money to almost every school district across Illinois. With our changes, the vast majority of our neediest district gets millions more."

Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill who sponsored the plan, said he, as Rauner has said, is willing to compromise. Manar told reporters after the Senate vote that lawmakers assigned to school-funding negotiations will meet again Tuesday. He urged House Republicans with differing ideas to come forward. But he said short of a deal, the House should also vote to override.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Republican state Sen. Tom Rooney of Rolling Meadows voted against an override of Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of education funding plan SB1.
Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of education funding plan SB1.

How suburban senators voted

The Illinois Senate on Sunday overrode Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of a bill to reform the state's school funding formula.

Here's how suburban senators cast their votes.

Yes: Daniel Biss, an Evanston Democrat; Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat; Cristina Castro, an Elgin Democrat; Thomas Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat; Don Harmon, an Oak Park Democrat; Linda Holmes, an Aurora Democrat; Terry Link, a Vernon Hills Democrat; Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat; Laura Murphy, a Des Plaines Democrat.

No: Pamela Althoff, a McHenry Republican; Michael Connelly, a Naperville Republican; John Curran, a Downers Grove Republican; Dan McConchie, a Hawthorn Woods Republican; Chris Nybo, an Elmhurst Republican; Jim Oberweis, a Sugar Grove Republican; Tom Rooney, a Rolling Meadows Republican.

Didn't vote: Karen McConnaughay, a St. Charles Republican


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