Illinois governor issues veto to amend school funding bill, reducing Chicago’s cut

By Mel Leonor

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner today used his veto power to amend a school funding bill to take away a $250 million block grant legislators earmarked for Chicago Public Schools.

The Republican governor has long vowed to reject the Democrat-backed bill in its original form, calling it a “bailout” of cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools. A series of negotiations in recent days did little to bend his arm.

The bill, which returns to the state legislature, would continue to rewrite Illinois’ school funding formula. It’s unclear whether Democrats will be able to override the changes.

It would set a target level of funding for each district and dole out money to work toward equity. Right now, Illinois schools draw most of their funding from local tax dollars, meaning districts in low-income areas often have the fewest resources to educate their students.

Democrats in the statehouse had earmarked additional funds for Chicago to help cover teacher pension payments. Chicago is the only district in the state that controls its teachers’ pensions.

With his veto, Rauner changed how the formula addresses Chicago’s schools.

“This is not about taking resources from Chicago,” he wrote. “This is about making historic changes to help poor children in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois.”

More here from the Chicago Tribune.