Veto Override Uncertain as Fight Over Funding Illinois Schools Moves to the House
Updated on August 21st.
The political landscape in the Illinois Statehouse is continuously changing, but it seems that Wednesday, August 23rd will be the day when members of the House will attempt to overturn Governor Bruce Rauner’s revised school spending bill. According to Jim Dey of The News-Gazette, Democrat and Republican legislative leaders met last Friday in an attempt to reach a compromise. However, House Speaker Michael Madigan, who holds significant power, will need the support of at least four Republicans to challenge the Governor’s amendatory veto. In an effort to secure their votes, Madigan is reportedly considering offering tax credits to high-income parents who choose to send their children to private schools. We await further updates.
Funding for Illinois students in the upcoming school year has already been delayed for several months due to disagreements between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the Democratic state legislature. The Illinois House will soon determine the fate of the school funding as they decide whether to override Rauner’s partial veto of a spending bill that primarily benefits underprivileged districts, including Chicago.
The state Senate, which is dominated by Democrats, easily overrode Rauner’s changes on Sunday. The Governor responded the next day, describing their decision as a "terrible mistake."
However, the outcome in the House remains uncertain as they reconvene today. Long-serving Speaker Michael Madigan will need the support of at least a few Republican representatives in order to oppose the Governor’s decision.
Payments to schools were originally scheduled to begin on August 10th. On Monday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel did not disclose where the financially struggling city will find $269 million to fill a budget gap in the Chicago Public Schools.
The future of the state’s education legislation may be influenced by a study released on Saturday by the Illinois Board of Education. The study revealed that Rauner’s amended version of the bill would increase funding for all but 20 districts, including Chicago, which would lose $463 million.
Rauner commented on the study, stating, "It shows that for years the state has been allocating money to Chicago at the expense of other districts." The Governor has been involved in numerous conflicts with city officials regarding funding issues.
On Monday, Rauner clarified that his veto was aimed at creating a fair system where every school district in the state is treated equally. He stated, "You’ll hear some elected officials here in Chicago say my veto is because I don’t care about Chicago, or I’m anti-Chicago… Nothing could be further from the truth."
There is a possibility that the House, which is comprised of 67 Democrats and 51 Republicans, could reach a bipartisan compromise. However, the animosity between Rauner and Madigan presents a significant obstacle. On Monday, the Governor accused Madigan of having unchecked power over the state for decades and claimed that even his own party is afraid of him. In response, a spokesperson for Madigan criticized the Governor, calling him "frankly… inept."
The House has a 13-day window to override Rauner’s veto.