Lawmakers return to Springfield to work on education funding reform
Lawmakers returned to Springfield this week for a special legislative session called by Governor Bruce Rauner, and Republican legislators joined him in calling for Democrat leaders to take action needed to ensure that all schools are able to open on time.
Also during the week, Governor Rauner signed legislation that freezes legislator pay and per diems to save the state money during special sessions.
Special Session on School Funding
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol July 26 after Governor Rauner issued a proclamation calling for a special legislative session on school funding in Illinois.
Senate Democrat leaders placed a parliamentary hold on Senate Bill 1 on May 31 after the bill passed, and have refused to send the bill to the Governor. Senate Republicans want Senate Democrat leaders to send Senate Bill 1 to the Governor so he can make the changes to the bill needed to make school funding fair and equitable to all 852 Illinois school districts.
Lawmakers are concerned that the Democrat leaders are manufacturing a crisis and creating a scenario where some school districts may not be able to open on time if Senate Bill 1 does not become law, thus putting enormous pressure on legislators to override the Governor’s expected amendatory veto. This is Madigan politics at its worst. Democrats are using kids as pawns in a chess game designed to bail out a mismanaged Chicago Public School system at the expense of poor kids across the state.
If Senate Bill 1 becomes law as currently written, rural and suburban districts across the state stand to lose crucial education funding as hundreds of millions of dollars are diverted from other Illinois school district to address the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) pension debt. Governor Rauner has said he will use an amendatory veto to remove special deals for CPS.
Senate Bill 1 currently puts the CPS pension debt burden on the rest of the state’s school districts, which means 851 school districts get less state money for their schools and students. By not sending the bill to the Governor, the Democrat leaders essentially are using the schoolchildren and families as pawns as they try to get a better deal for Chicago’s school district.
Reforming education funding is critical. By stalling Senate Bill 1, Democrat leaders have placed school payments in jeopardy, leaving students, teachers and parents waiting to find out if their schools will open on time.
Curbing Government Costs
Also during the week, the Governor signed legislation to curb government costs.
House Bill 643 prohibits the automatic cost-of-living adjustment raises for State lawmakers, and other executive government personnel, which were to take effect July 1.
The bill also reduces the reimbursement for per diem and mileage to rates that were set in 2012.