Illinois governor’s veto could jeopardize school funding

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner used his veto power Tuesday to strip millions of dollars for Chicago Public Schools from a school funding overhaul, a move that could mean no districts get state money before classes begin.

The Republican removed help for Chicago Public Schools’ pensions along with money the district formerly received in the form of a block grant, along with other rewrites.

“With my changes, Illinois can achieve historic education funding reform that is fair and equitable to all Illinois’ children,” Rauner said at a Capitol news conference.

The bill now returns to the Democrat-controlled Legislature, where a three-fifths vote in both chambers is needed to either override Rauner’s changes or approve them to be able to send money to schools this year. Both options will be difficult. If neither chamber can muster the votes, the legislation dies.

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Ahead of Rauner’s news conference, Democrats warned any veto would undo years of work aimed at overhauling a school-funding formula that’s considered the most inequitable in the nation.

They urged Rauner not to engage in a “veto showdown” and to let Republican legislators continue closed-door negotiations that started over the weekend but fell apart Monday.

“If he vetoes the bill, the bill is dead,” said state Sen. Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat who sponsored the legislation. “That action will set us back decades.”

Rauner told reporters it would take a simple majority of legislators to approve his changes. But Democrats, citing a previous attorney general’s opinion, say more votes are necessary because the law would have to take effect immediately in order to get money to schools.

A new school formula is required as part of a state budget deal that legislators approved in July over Rauner’s veto, ending an impasse that reached a third year.

Without the new school funding legislation, districts won’t get paid. The first payment to schools is due Aug. 10.

No Illinois school has reported that it’ll be unable to open on time, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. However, many say they’ll only be able to last a few months.

In a southern Illinois district in West Frankfort, Superintendent Matt Donkin said there’s only enough money for the district with about 1,750 students to meet payroll “a few times.”

“That leaves a lot…

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