SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KMOX) — Who’s meeting with who — and when?
That seems to be the latest holdup in Illinois. Governor Bruce Rauner and Republicans demand the Senate send the governor an education funding bill that’s required for schools to get money.
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) says he wants to meet with the governor to find out specifically what his concerns are. House Minority Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) says Republicans will meet with Democrats — after they send over the bill, not before.
“It’s important people realize that Republicans, and also the governor, are prepared to compromise and work with the Democrats, and we will be reasonable,” Durkin told reporters. “Send us the bill and we will talk to you. We’ll work with you.”
At issue is money included in the plan to help Chicago Public Schools with its struggling teacher pension system. Gov. Rauner calls that a “bailout,” but Thursday some rank-and-file Republicans held a separate news conference detailing exactly what they think is wrong with the bill.
Democrats say the additional money headed to the pension system for Chicago Public Schools is not a bailout, it simply means the state will pay as much into that system as it does for each district in the system that covers the rest of the state. State Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) says that’s not entirely accurate, and explains the state will have to spend more money on Chicago every year because it’s tied to the new state funding formula in the bill.
Republicans maintain the governor wants to take that portion of the bill out and send it back to lawmakers, but Democrats say if the governor issues any sort of veto, full or amendatory, and there aren’t enough votes to override it, it dies. The bill does not take effect with the changes suggested by the governor. The state budget approved by lawmakers over the governor’s objections requires a new evidence based formula be put in place
Meanwhile, some superintendents in downstate Illinois want to bypass the political back-and-forth and are hoping the governor signs Senate Bill 1 into law as is.
“It’s a proportionate distribution of funds and that’s a fact,” Staunton Superintendent Dan Cox told a town hall meeting at Gillespie High School Thursday. Gillespie is about 50 miles north of St. Louis near Litchfield. “There are 267 school districts throughout Illinois that will receive more revenue per student under Senate Bill 1 than Chicago Public Schools. That includes the districts that are represented here tonight.”
Lawmakers are scheduled to be in special session through Monday, the day before most school districts’ fiscal years begin.