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Illinois Senate overrides Gov. Bruce Rauner's school veto

AP photo
Illinois Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hills (center) rallies support Thursday outside Feitshans Elementary school in Springfield for Senate Bill 1, the legislation he sponsored that revamps the way public schools are funded. Gov. Bruce Rauner substantially changed SB 1 with an amendatory veto. The Democratic-controlled Legislature is grappling with the Republican governor over how to fix the biggest gap in the U.S. between a state's richest schools and its poorest. The Senate convenes Sunday. Democrats said they'll try to override Rauner's veto.
AP photo Illinois Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hills (center) rallies support Thursday outside Feitshans Elementary school in Springfield for Senate Bill 1, the legislation he sponsored that revamps the way public schools are funded. Gov. Bruce Rauner substantially changed SB 1 with an amendatory veto. The Democratic-controlled Legislature is grappling with the Republican governor over how to fix the biggest gap in the U.S. between a state's richest schools and its poorest. The Senate convenes Sunday. Democrats said they'll try to override Rauner's veto.

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Senate has voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a public-school funding plan.

The Senate voted, 38-19, Sunday to reject the Republican’s amendatory veto of a newly devised financing formula. Rauner has said it is too generous to Chicago public schools.

State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, whose district includes part of McHenry County, blasted the override in a statement after voting in favor of the amendatory veto.

“Today’s override of the governor’s veto was an unnecessary partisan act,” McConchie said. “I firmly believe we could have come to a bi-partisan agreement on school funding reform had negotiations been carried out in good faith.

“As one of the negotiators, I came to the table fully prepared to come to an agreement on how we can better fund our schools. However, good faith discussions never happened. In fact, the bill’s sponsor admitted in the press that he was never really negotiating with us. Instead, the Democrats have decided to pursue a path of bailing out Chicago at any cost. It is now up to the House to reject this partisan, regionalistic politics.”

The override needed 36 votes. It moves to the House, where it also needs a three-fifths majority. Override prospects are less certain there. State Sen. Pam Althoff, R-McHenry, also voted against the bill.

Sen. Andy Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill who sponsored the plan, said Rauner would rob Peter to pay Paul. Manar said his plan, known as Senate Bill 1, ensures that no school district would receive less state aid than it did this past school year, a provision known as “hold harmless.”

“Taking money away from one district – the largest in the state, which educates children in poverty – and giving it to other districts in the state [that] educates children in poverty is not a solution that’s going to lead to greater equity,” Manar said. “Senate Bill 1 results in no red numbers, no losses.”

The dust-up prevented the State Board of Education from releasing the first state-aid payment, due Thursday. Many public school districts are scheduled to open this week or next week. None has indicated it won’t open, but most have said they can’t hold class all year without state money.

An analysis by the independent State Board of Education this weekend found more than 97 percent of Illinois schools would have received more state money under Rauner’s amended funding reform plan than under the Democrats’ SB 1.

Rauner’s amendatory veto removed hundreds of millions of dollars from what he calls a “bailout” for the nation’s third-largest school system. It redistributed funds, and Rauner is promoting that nearly every district would get more money under his plan.

The top beneficiaries in McHenry County would have included include Harvard District 50, which would have gotten $2,673,914 more than the Democrats’ plan in SB 1. Huntley District 158 would have received $1,648,317 more net. Woodstock District 200 would have received $1,041,188 more net. Crystal Lake-based Community District 155 would have received $880,275 more net, and Crystal Lake District 47 would have received $448,442 more net.

Democrats argued that Chicago educates largely low-income students. They said the Rauner plan simply takes money from one needy district to fund another.

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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