Illinois has ended a more-than-two-year impasse and approved a state budget, but with just a few weeks until the 2017-18 school year is to begin, funding for education is uncertain.
The Associated Press reports that although the state budget includes an additional $350 million for schools, it comes with changes in the state aid formula that Gov. Bruce Rauner opposes.
Rauner has suggested he will veto the new funding method because he contends that it unfairly provides extra money to the nation’s third-largest school district in Chicago.
A veto would leave Illinois with no plan to allocate general state education aid. The could jeopardize schools’ opening, but Rauner says schools will open on time.
“We’re going to make sure schools open and we’re going to make sure that it’s done on a basis that’s fair for taxpayers across the state,” the governor says.
Lawmakers approved a budget earlier this month and then overrode Rauner's veto to enact the spending plan and end a state-budget stalemate that was the nation’s longest since at least the Great Depression.
The funding overhaul approved by the legislature tries to narrow the gap between wealthy and poor districts. It would ensure that none of the state’s 850 school districts receives less than aid that the previous year, and would provide money to districts based on local property wealth and distinct student-population needs.
Rauner objects to specific state-funding allowances for Chicago schools on top of a new requirement that the state pick up the employer’s portion of teacher pensions costs for them — the way it does for every other Illinois district.
Illinois gives governors constitutional authority to use an amendatory veto to make “specific recommendations for change.” But it’s unclear whether lawmakers left language specific enough to alter.