Fate of School Funding Now Sits With General Assembly

Aug 1, 2017

Credit Illinois Governor's Office

"Chicago bailout" is the tag Governor Bruce Rauner pinned on Senate Bill 1, the new school funding plan approved by the General Assembly. 

So when Democrats finally sent him the bill, Rauner wasted no time cutting portions that help Chicago Public Schools.

Republicans have long promised to cut the block grant that gives CPS an extra $250 million per year. But with his veto pen, Rauner kept chopping, going after a provision meant to accommodate higher Chicagoland salaries — and another he says CPS uses to hide its property wealth.

Despite those changes, Rauner told reporters his plan is generous to CPS.

"This is an improvement. My amendatory veto is an improvement for Chicago classrooms, for Chicago low-income families, over the existing funding formula that's been in place for years." 

Rauner also wants legislators to create a tax scholarship program to help families afford private schools.​

Much of the legislation has bipartisan support. But the governor took issue with Democratic provisions meant to help Chicago Public Schools.

"This isn't a bailout, this is wonderful for everybody, this... No, that is false! The numbers that I've put out and the numbers that I'm traveling the state every day is the truth."

The fact-checking group Politifact Illinois today said Rauner's assessment is “false."

Accepting or rejecting Rauner’s vetoes would require a super-majority vote — meaning Democrats and at least some Republicans will have to agree.

Lawmakers have about two weeks to act, but schools are getting impatient. They can't get state funds without some version of this legislation, and they're expecting their first payment on August 10th.​