Latest fight at Illinois Capitol threatens money for schools

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, center, flanked by Republican members of both chambers speaks during a news conference during the second day of a special session on education funding at the Illinois State Capitol, Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Springfield, Ill. Rauner summoned lawmakers with the task of resolving a fight over a new funding calculation. Both chambers have approved a plan, but the Senate has refused to send it to Rauner, who says he'll rewrite it over objections to money that Chicago will get. (Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register via AP)

The Associated Press

Some Quad-City area school superintendents are worried Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of an education bill could delay new money expected as a result of last year's historic funding reform law.

On Monday, the governor issued an amendatory veto of a bill tied to the law, which changes the way the state allocates money to K-12 schools. The governor, in his veto message, urged lawmakers to fix what he said is a flaw related to a part of the law that allows tax credits for private school scholarships.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, a key figure in passing the reform law, said Tuesday afternoon on Twitter the veto could stop new formula money from being distributed this year.

The governor's office disputed the idea money would be held up. "Our understanding from (the Illinois State Board of Education) is that they are hoping to send out tier funding in March or April," Rauner spokesperson Rachel Bold said in an email.

A spokesperson for the board said Tuesday she didn't have an estimate when additional funding would be distributed.

In the aftermath of the veto, Illinois Quad-City superintendents were scrambling to understand the potential impact.

Jay Morrow, the superintendent at United Township High School, said Tuesday he's been seeking clarity about whether this will affect the disbursement of new funds. "My guess is that, yes, it will."

“It’s disappointing but not surprising. It seems like this is par for the course for Illinois politics. And we’re stuck in the middle again," he said.

Kristin Humphries, the superintendent at East Moline School District 37, said he understood that money would be released next month. "Now we don't know when we will receive those funds," he said in an email on Tuesday.

The district, he said, expects to receive about $1 million in additional money.

The new evidence-based formula is aimed at establishing funding targets for individual districts across the state and the ability of local districts to meet them. For those with relatively poor populations, the bill would mean additional money.

The governor had initially issued an amendatory veto of the reform legislation last year, but he ended up signing a compromise that included the language creating the tax credits for private schools.

Since then, he's touted the reform law as a major accomplishment of his administration. Illinois has had an historically inequitable funding formula.

Critics of the tax credit program say that it will divert public money to private schools. 

In his message notifying lawmakers of his veto of the new bill, Rauner said at least three dozen private schools would not be able to benefit from the tax credit program.

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