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Bipartisan group of Senators votes to override Gov. Rauner’s veto

  • Written by Staff Reports

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate voted to advance an historic education funding reform Sunday afternoon, overriding a veto of the bill from Gov. Bruce Rauner.

The Senate voted 38-19 to override the governor’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, a data-driven reform that replaces the state’s worst-in-the-nation school funding formula with an evidence-based adequacy model. The Senate’s successful override vote sends the legislation to the House of Representatives.

If the House follows suit in voting to override the governor, the historic reform will become law. If the House does not get the 71 votes necessary to override, the state will be unable to disburse general state aid payments to school districts.

“Schools need long-term certainty and stability. Not only does SB1 provide this, it does so with a formula that directs the largest funding increases to the schools that need it most so that all students can succeed regardless of their zip code,” said state Sen. Steve Landek (D-12th), who voted for the override.

Senate Bill 1 in its original form is backed by education experts and non-partisan school finance professionals as it invests $350 million in new funding to K-12 education. But that money can’t be distributed if an evidence-based funding model is not in place.

Because of this, the state missed its general state aid payment to schools for the first time in Illinois’ history earlier this month.

“Senate Bill 1 is the only bill offered that gives long-term stability to schools. It updates Illinois’ outdated, 20-year-old funding formula and stops the practice of simply throwing money at schools, instead basing investment on the specific needs of every district,” Landek said.

Landek pointed out that Senate Bill 1 directs funding toward 27 key elements — such as class size, availability of full-day kindergarten and teacher training opportunities — that positively impact student achievement. Based on the individual school district’s needs, a minimum adequacy target is determined to help ensure students in every school district get a high-quality education.

Landek said Rauner’s amendatory veto removes the minimum funding level guaranteed in Senate Bill 1, creating uncertainty by tying funding to enrollment numbers. The veto also pits schools against economic development efforts by removing protections for school districts that lie within Tax Increment Financing districts, he added.

Rauner’s veto was signed despite reports from his education secretary that the governor supported “90 percent” of the bill. On top of that, he vetoed the bill even though it was based on the ideas of a commission he appointed, as he claimed it was a “Chicago bailout.”

But Landek said that is false, as 268 schools see a greater per-pupil funding increase than Chicago Public Schools. Schools throughout the suburbs would see considerable funding increases per Senate Bill 1. Those include Argo High School District 217 (gain of $227,413), Oak Lawn 229 and Oak Lawn-Hometown 123 (combined gain of more than $281,000), Community High School District 218 (gain of $409,448), and High School District 230 (gain $209,930).

“The bottom line is Senate Bill 1 is an effective and dynamic reform. It’s already passed the legislature, so Sunday’s vote was simply a rejection of the governor’s hastily crafted amendatory veto,” Landek said.

After the Senate’s action, the House has 15 days to act on Rauner’s amendatory veto. They were scheduled to take up the matter on Wednesday.