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No action on school funding reform this week, session scheduled for next week
After two months of delay, Senate Democrats last week sent Governor Rauner the school funding reform bill, Senate Bill 1. He immediately issued an amendatory veto which struck out the portion of the bill that bailed out Chicago’s school pension system.




EDUCATION FUNDING

Gov. Rauner issues amendatory veto to ensure school funding bill is fair, equitable for all students. Tuesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto to Senate Bill 1, the school funding bill. The matter now heads to the Illinois General Assembly, where the governor has respectfully requested that lawmakers uphold his changes. If these changes are upheld, Illinois will achieve historic education funding reform.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from or who your family is. With a great education, you can go anywhere in life and be whomever you want to be. You can grow up, get a good job and provide for your family. That’s why the changes I have made to the education funding bill are so important,” Gov. Rauner said. “With my changes, our state ensures that enough resources flow to children in the poorest and most disadvantaged school districts across the entire state. And my changes ensure that the education funding system in our state is fair and equitable to all students in Illinois.”

More than a year ago, Gov. Rauner established the Illinois School Funding Reform Commission. This group came together on a bipartisan basis to study the way Illinois funds its public schools, and to chart a path to a fairer and more equitable system.

“These changes included in my amendatory veto reflect years of hard work by our education reform commission and our ability to overcome our political differences for the good of our young people’s futures,” Gov. Rauner said. “I urge the General Assembly to act quickly to accept these changes and let our students start school on time.”

The governor’s amendatory veto makes the following changes to ensure an adequate and equitable school funding formula:

• Maintains a per-district hold harmless until the 2020-2021 school year, and then moves to a per-pupil hold harmless based on a three-year rolling average of enrollment.

• Removes the requirement of $350M in spending every year.

• Removes the Chicago block grant from the funding formula.

• Removes both Chicago Public Schools pension considerations from the formula: the normal cost pick-up and the unfunded liability deduction.

• Reintegrates the normal cost pick-up for Chicago Public Schools into the Pension Code where it belongs, and finally begins to treat Chicago like all other districts with regards to the State’s relationship with its teachers’ pensions.

• Eliminates the PTELL and TIF equalized assessed value subsidies that allow districts to continue under-reporting property wealth.

• Removes the escalators throughout the bill that automatically increase costs.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Governor signs bill to prohibit pay raises for General Assembly members. Co-sponsored by 20 House Republican members, HB 643 amends the Compensation Review Act to prohibit what would otherwise have been automatic pay hikes for State government legislative and executive elected officers and appointees, including members of the General Assembly. The new law also freezes the reimbursements that lawmakers can ask to cover the costs of their lodging, meals, and mileage while on State business.

The freeze on taxpayer-funded pay and benefits covers all of Fiscal Year 2018, and will be effective through June 30, 2018. The pay/benefits freeze bill was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner on Wednesday, July 26.
Governor calls special session for school funding reform
Governor Rauner called the House and Senate back into session this week to get an agreement on a new school funding formula. The state budget which was passed a few weeks ago contained a requirement that all school funding go through an “evidence-based” formula. Without such a formula in place, no state money can be distributed to Illinois’ more than 800 school districts. We need to get to work on passing legislation to put this formula in place so that schools will get their funds in time to start classes.

School funding reform bill hanging in limbo
The legislature has been in summer recess for the past couple of weeks. During that time I have taken the opportunity to visit several of our local school boards, and I plan to visit several more in the coming days and weeks. I recently met with the school boards in Rossville, Bismarck, Watseka and Iroquois West to discuss state government and the ongoing issues we face. Obviously, the biggest matter of concern was the question of school funding reform and whether schools will be able to open on time this fall.

Thank you to our first responders
Far too often we are reminded of the risks that our first responders take to keep us safe. In the past few weeks, those of us who serve in elected office have seen these brave men and women in action. They do their jobs so well that we sometimes take their service for granted until something happens to remind us of all that they do. I want to take a moment to say thank you to those who serve and protect each and every day.