With school starting in just a few weeks, Governor Rauner shut the door on progress by issuing an amendatory veto (AV) of Senate Bill 1 (SB1), the education funding reform bill that provides more money to local schools without any school district losing a penny of state or local funding.
The most concerning components of the AV are as follows:
- The AV removes the Minimum Funding Level, an important factor for encouraging the legislature to continue making investments in school funding so that all districts are adequately funded. SB1 sets a goal of a 1% increase of the total state adequacy level each year. If the goal isn’t met, SB1 shields the most underfunded districts. The AV erases this incentive to provide reasonable school funding increases in the future.
- In removing adjustments for property tax caps and TIF districts, the AV is ignoring the realities that districts face. Property tax laws limit the amount of funding school districts can take in each year. TIFs also divert property tax funds from school districts. Even though districts do not have access to these funds, the AV changes state law to pretend that they do. There is widespread agreement that the way Illinois approaches PTELL and TIF needs modernization, but this approach fails to address that core issue; instead it takes the problem out on school districts and children, who would now be twice denied that funding.
- The AV punishes districts statewide by capping regional costs, which will impact each of the 313 school districts in Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will Counties. It also ignores inflation.
- One component of this year’s budget package shifted pension costs for new teachers from the state to school districts. Districts must pay those costs in order to be adequately funded, but the Governor’s AV eliminates them from the adequacy calculation.
- Regarding Chicago, the AV turns its back on the fact that Chicago is the only school district in Illinois that pays its own pension costs. While the statement issued from the Governor’s office talks about the state finally beginning to treat Chicago like all other districts, it approaches this in a manner many experts believe is unconstitutional. The AV also removes the cost of Chicago’s block grant from the district’s base funding minimum, an unnecessary shot at the largest school district in the state and the 85% of its students who live in poverty because the block grant will go away in the future under SB1.
- To avoid a system of winning and losing schools, SB1 has a “hold harmless” that gives each district at least the same amount of state funds as last year. The AV evaporates the hold harmless in only three short years, at which time, as populations continue to move from rural to urban areas, our rural schools will feel the impact of lost resources. Last year, 222 districts lost enrollment.
We urge the legislature to override the veto.