Tentative agreement reached on school funding, but details still being worked out
The four legislative leaders in the House and Senate met Thursday to continue the negotiations on school funding reform legislation. After the meeting both sides said that they had reached a tentative agreement but still had a few details to work out. Leaders will meet again over the weekend to finalize these remaining issues. I am cautiously optimistic that this news means we might finally have gotten this matter resolved.

House engages in theater on school funding bill
With schools starting classes this week and next week, the legislature has still been unable to come together on a plan to fund our schools. As a quick recap: in May, House and Senate Democrats passed Senate Bill 1, a bill which reformed the school funding formula, but also bailed out the Chicago teachers’ pension fund at the expense of all the other schools in the state.

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.


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.

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.