Interview07282017BUNKER HILL – Public schools in Bunker Hill, Gillespie, Brighton, Palmyra, Morrisonville, Kincaid and Edinburg are among those that would receive dramatically less state funding than they do now under Gov. Bruce Rauner’s changes to a landmark school funding reform measure that he vetoed last week.

Rauner’s veto would punish schools for enrollment declines, impede local economic development efforts and bar school districts from claiming voter-approved tax cap adjustments. These seven school districts would be affected by one or more of the provisions.

“What Gov. Rauner has proposed without any negotiation is outrageous and yet another disservice to rural Illinois children who already attend schools that lack resources because of underfunding,” said Senator Andy Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and the chief Senate sponsor of Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform measure that Rauner vetoed last week.

Manar said the provisions the governor introduced into Senate Bill 1 by veto appear to be an attempt to shift significant costs away from the state and onto local school taxpayers. The effort is designed to force difficult conversations locally – raise property taxes to shoulder the burden, or take such steps as cutting teachers’ pay and benefits or consolidating school districts to save money.

“Gov. Rauner – who didn’t even share his veto language in advance with Republican lawmakers negotiating Senate Bill 1 – is trying to back-door these provisions into law without discussing them with anyone, including the local mayors, parents, taxpayers and school superintendents who stand to be the most directly and dramatically affected by his secret plans,” Manar said.

“The people of these communities should be incensed and on the phone with their mayors and their state lawmakers demanding answers about why Bruce Rauner wants to hamper job creation in small towns, why he wants to punish schools for losing a few students, and why Republicans are going along with a plan that strikes at the heart of rural Illinois.”

Fact sheet: Rauner’s veto effects on Macoupin and Christian County schools

School districts that lost enrollment in 2016
Morrisonville CUSD 1 (Christian)
Mount Olive CUSD 5 (Macoupin)
Bunker Hill CUSD 8 (Macoupin)
Southwestern CUSD 9 (Macoupin)
Source: Illinois State Board of Education

Schools that claim PTELL adjustments
Gillespie CUSD 7
Bunker Hill CUSD 8
Northwestern CUSD 2, Palmyra
South Fork School District 14, Kincaid
Edinburg Consolidated Unit School District 4
PTELL: Property Tax Extension Limitation Law
Source: Illinois State Board of Education

Tax increment finance districts
Macoupin County
Bunker Hill
Carlinville
Carlinville
Gillespie
Staunton
Christian County
Pana
Stonington
Source: Illinois Department of Revenue

 

Category: School Funding Reform

The following guest column by Senator Andy Manar was published in the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat on Aug. 10, as well as in other area newspapers.

 

Manar07282017After months of divisive rhetoric, changing positions and no specific plan of his own, Gov. Bruce Rauner last week vetoed Senate Bill 1, the school funding reform measure carefully crafted by educators across Illinois to improve the future for all school districts going forward.

For months, Rauner kept his plan secret. But now that his veto language is public, it’s clear why he refused to negotiate with lawmakers beforehand. He injected radical changes into the measure that erode the fundamental intent of the bill – to ensure fair funding for all schools. These changes, in fact, will harm downstate Illinois’ least-funded schools the most, including many here in central Illinois.

If you’re not alarmed yet, you should be. His plan is carefully crafted to force difficult choices upon local communities: bear the burden of cost shifts onto local communities, forcing higher property taxes, or consolidate schools, diminish teachers’ pay and benefits and cut programs.

Some of what Rauner’s veto proposes:

  • Penalties for enrollment declines. Between 2015 and 2016, about 60 percent of Illinois schools lost enrollment. It’s easy to suggest dollars should follow those pupils. But how are superintendents to cut teachers and classroom resources when students are lost a few at a time across multiple grade levels? It’s akin to suggesting mayors lay off firefighters because empty-nesters downsize their homes.
  • Pitting schools against jobs. Rauner’s plan requires school districts to claim they have access to more local resources than they actually do, which means they’ll be entitled to less state funding. This jeopardizes tax increment financing, a key economic-development tool that many cities use to attract companies, and property tax cap adjustments that school districts are allowed to claim. Mayors should be aghast that this provision, with an immediate effect and no opportunity for public discussion, was inserted into a school funding bill.
  • Back to winners and losers. Senate Bill 1 ensured no schools lost state funding. Some of them gained a lot, some didn’t gain much, but nobody lost a dollar of state funding. Rauner’s veto undoes that, making losers of hundreds of downstate school districts.
  • But he took care of that awful “Chicago bailout,” right? Nope. It lives on under Rauner’s veto – and costs you more. Not only does he incorrectly count savings from Chicago teacher pensions, thus spending the same money twice and blowing a $221 million hole in the budget, he also raids money from Chicago special-education students so he can redistribute it to downstate schools for operations. I don’t know about everyone else, but stealing money from families of disabled youth, children with behavioral disorders and students who need help learning to read is not how most of the families I know want their schools to get ahead. Let’s enact a fundamentally fair system that benefits all districts instead — that’s what Senate Bill 1 does.

Rauner appears to be preparing a full-on assault of public education in Illinois, and those first to feel the pain are already-underfunded districts with growing numbers of impoverished students and other challenges. The long-term impact undoubtedly is higher property taxes.

Sadly, nearly every Republican lawmaker flocked to support his Rauner’s secret veto before they read one word of it. Few have publicly disavowed it even though they’ve now read it and must realize the damage it will cause.

The question now is this: Will these lawmakers support Rauner or the schools and the families they represent in Springfield?

Senate Bill 1 is good public policy and the result of years of hard work and passionate debate statewide among Democratic and Republican lawmakers, school superintendents and others. It offers a stable, long-term solution for Illinois and puts underfunded downstate districts at the front of the line.

This is a hill upon which I’m willing to die. I will continue negotiating with my colleagues until we find a path forward for all schools and for future generations of students who deserve the best Illinois can offer.

But I won’t support the provisions in Rauner’s veto. As the people of Illinois begin to learn more about his now-exposed hidden agenda, I believe they will agree.

Senator Andy Manar is a Bunker Hill Democrat and the sponsor of Senate Bill 1.

Category: School Funding Reform

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois public schools under attack by the Rauner administration, as evidenced by the contents of the governor's veto of Senate Bill 1, the landmark school funding reform legislation that has the support of thousands of school superintendents, principals, teachers, parents, advocates, community groups, public officials and taxpayers.

"Gov. Rauner has said that he wanted to 'make it a better bill.' What he is doing, make no mistake, from his veto language is waging an all-out attack on public education in the state of Illinois," Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) told reporters during a news conference Thursday at the Illinois Capitol.

"He is using the veto power of the executive branch to attack public education. Over time, the provisions outlined in Gov. Rauner's veto would cause the state to divest from public education at historic levels and starve public schools. The first on the plate are the ones that are the darkest shade of orange (on the maps displayed at the news conference)."

Manar noted that, at the same time, Rauner is asking for a $100 million voucher program, one that is not funded and has not had a single public hearing, in exchange for continuing discussions on Senate Bill 1 to reach final compromise.

"So this is not about fixing Senate Bill 1. This is about doing what he wants to do, which is to divest in public education through the mechanism of an amendatory veto."

Watch the entire news conference below.

Category: School Funding Reform

08032017ManarPresser600

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

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