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From punishing schools for enrollment declines to penalizing them for their communities’ aggressive job-creation efforts, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner appears to be lining up an all-out assault on Illinois’ long-standing commitment to public education.

And most of the unwitting victims in this battle are school districts that already are underfunded by the state of Illinois and struggling with growing numbers of impoverished students and other challenges.

“What Gov. Rauner outlined in his veto of Senate Bill 1 this week would cause the state to pull back from its investment in public education at historic levels and starve public schools everywhere,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and a longtime school funding reform advocate. Manar is the chief Senate sponsor of Senate Bill 1.

“This was never about a so-called ‘Chicago bailout.’ This is about Bruce Rauner seizing upon an opportunity to get what he wanted all along: divestment in public education and shifting costs onto local taxpayers.”

In his veto of Senate Bill 1, Rauner proposed more than 100 changes to Senate Bill 1. Among them were provisions that pit schools against local economic development efforts (tax increment financing districts) and penalize schools for losing students. (Click here to view interactive maps of how Rauner's veto stands to harm downstate schools and communities.)

Many downstate communities utilize TIF districts for job creation and economic development, and more than 360 school districts have seen enrollment declines for various reasons.

In addition, Rauner’s veto language suggests the state should pretend school districts have access to resources that they don’t so that the state is on the hook for less funding, forcing districts to make difficult decisions about asking for local property tax increases or making cuts. He went so far this week as to accuse them of purposefully hiding property wealth.

Manar said the veto language goes against everything Rauner has led people to believe about his commitment to public education.

“Gov. Rauner has suddenly taken a hard right turn and abandoned all of his own policies and achievements to betray public schools – all within a matter of weeks,” he said.

“What the governor has proposed in his veto of Senate Bill 1 does not ‘make it a better bill,’ as he continues to insist. Every lawmaker who signed on to support this veto before they saw the language was sold a bill of goods.

“We need to override this veto, and we need to do it as soon as possible, because what Gov. Rauner has proposed will devastate Illinois schools and will set us back even farther than we are today.”

Category: School Funding Reform

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), sponsor of Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform measure that has overwhelming support statewide, issued the following statement regarding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of the legislation:

“Gov. Rauner has chosen to imperil years of work and negotiation on school funding reform against the wishes and advice of thousands of superintendents, educators, parents and experts throughout the state.

“Senate Democrats are reviewing his veto, which on its face appears to have significant challenges — both legally and functionally — that would be disastrous for the least-funded schools in Illinois.

“I want to reiterate that Democratic lawmakers believed we could get to a reasonable compromise with the governor through negotiations that would have alleviated his concerns about Senate Bill 1.

“Fortunately, we remain confident that we still have the opportunity to come to a reasonable compromise through further negotiations with our Republican colleagues, despite the governor’s action today.”

Category: School Funding Reform

Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement calling on the governor to personally join school funding talks and bring with him his secret revisions to a historic school funding plan. His comments are in response to the governor’s statement today that there should be negotiations among lawmakers on how to change the school funding plan.

“Lawmakers have been negotiating. This proposal reflects compromise. That’s how we got this far. That’s how the governor got 90 percent of what he wants. I’m happy to participate in new discussions, but what we need is the governor to personally participate and show everyone what it is that he now demands.

“We’ve worked with his administration to assemble this historic proposal, but I’ve yet to work directly with him. That’s why we’ve been trying to get a meeting with the governor to make sure he understands what this legislation does, the opportunity he has and what an amendatory veto likely means.

“As sponsor of the legislation, I am asking the governor to personally participate in these negotiations. It’s time that he step out of the shadows with the proposal he wants, roll up his sleeves and work with us.

“A veto from the governor only protects the status quo. The status quo is unacceptable. One way or another, we are going to deliver change. If the governor does not come forward to show and explain his threatened veto, I will have little choice but to file an override motion as soon as that veto arrives in the Senate.”

Category: School Funding Reform

SPRINGFIELD – Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) issued the following statement on Gov. Rauner’s call for a special session:

"Calling a special session to address school funding reform is a wasteful gimmick the governor is using to distract from the real issue. The real issue is that the governor refuses to reveal what alleged problems he has with Senate Bill 1 and will not negotiate in good faith.

“Rather than waste taxpayer dollars on an expensive special session, the governor should meet with the leaders to hammer out an agreement.

The governor is essentially asking the legislature to buy a house without inspecting it. We need to know the details of the governor’s amendatory veto so that we can address his concerns in a responsible manner. It’s time for the governor to stop campaigning and come forward with his plan. He owes it to the students of Illinois.”

Category: School Funding Reform

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Springfield Office:
119A Capitol Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Phone: (217) 782-0228
Fax: (217) 557-3930

Decatur Office:
Macon County Office Building
141 S. Main St., Suite 502
Decatur, IL 62523
Phone: (217) 429-8110
Fax: (217) 429-8018

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115 N. Washington, P.O. Box 636
Bunker Hill, IL 62014
Phone: (618) 585-4848