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State

Illinois House schedules school-funding veto override

AP photo
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks at a news conference Wednesday in Springfield. The speaker said the Illinois House will try to reverse Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a public school funding revamp next week. Madigan, a Democrat from Chicago, slammed GOP members who would not support the legislation, proposed by Democrats, to incorporate the expansive changes Rauner made in an amendatory veto.
AP photo Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks at a news conference Wednesday in Springfield. The speaker said the Illinois House will try to reverse Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a public school funding revamp next week. Madigan, a Democrat from Chicago, slammed GOP members who would not support the legislation, proposed by Democrats, to incorporate the expansive changes Rauner made in an amendatory veto.

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House will try to reverse Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a public school funding revamp next week, the speaker said Wednesday after a failed vote on legislation Democrats introduced to gauge support for the Republican governor’s alternative ideas.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat from Chicago, slammed GOP members who would not support the legislation, which incorporated the expansive changes Rauner made in an amendatory veto.

It failed without a single “yes” vote and 60 against. Most Republicans voted “present” after a debate in which GOP members admonished Democrats for not attempting a veto override that won’t be successful unless at least four Republicans vote for it.

“You don’t even have the guts to put the bill up and see where the votes fall,” said Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Republican from Wheaton.

School opened in most parts of the state Wednesday. Without a funding plan in place, the first state aid check due Aug. 10 was delayed. Most classes are starting but many administrators say they can’t stay open longer than the fall semester.

The House will take a veto override vote Wednesday, Madigan said after the House session. The Senate voted to override Sunday, so success in the House would put into law a new funding formula designed to funnel new state money to the neediest schools first.

Despite Rauner’s insistence that he’s willing to compromise, Madigan said he questions the governor’s sincerity. He said he offered a compromise last weekend on the issue which Rauner rejected. He would not elaborate. Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick denied the governor received any offer.

Rauner used his power of amendatory veto – available to only seven U.S. governors – to significantly alter the legislation, known as Senate Bill 1, the first major change to the way public schools are financed in two decades. His biggest gripes are that it unfairly favors Chicago schools over the rest of the state with a “bailout” for a mismanaged system and hamstrings future state-funding flexibility.

Rauner’s action cut $450 million slated to go to Chicago and redistributed it throughout the state. He’s produced an analysis that shows more money this year for the vast majority of school districts. But his edits also include changes that opponents say will penalize school districts in the future, counting against them property tax revenue they can’t access.

“I liken it to a payday loan,” Staunton Schools Superintendent Dan Cox told a House committee earlier Wednesday. “We get more money now – some of us – at a higher cost later.”

During a political event in Springfield, Rauner blamed Madigan and other Chicago Democrats for blocking his changes and excoriated the “corrupt political machine in Chicago.”

Rauner said Chicago Democrats’ self-interest in state government has brought the city high taxes, unemployment, violence and “terrible schools.”

“They don’t run the political operation to benefit the people in Chicago, and I can sure as heck tell you they don’t run the government for the benefit of the people of central Illinois, or southern Illinois or northwest Illinois or the suburbs of Chicago either,” Rauner said.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, a Chicago Democrat, said it’s “racially and geographically divisive” for Rauner to use the bailout label. Taylorville schools chief Greggory Fuerstenau dismissed the statements as “pitting school district against school district.”

Craig Clark, superintendent in Centralia, said the plan is “about equal opportunity for every student to shine. Senate Bill 1 works for Chicago, Centralia and Cairo.”

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