Illinois Senate overrides Rauner school veto

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Senate voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a public-school funding plan Sunday, undoing changes he made to the bill in a 38-19 vote.

The Republican governor made an amendatory veto of a newly-devised financing formula, saying it's too generous to Chicago Public Schools. His veto removed hundreds of millions of dollars from what he calls a "bailout" for the nation's third-largest school system. He said by redistributing the funds, nearly every district would get more money.

As the Democrats’ first step in their plan to end the showdown over school cash, the override needed 36 votes. Democrats argued that Chicago educates largely low-income students, and the Rauner plan simply takes money from one needy district to fund another.

"SB1 is a work product that represents compromise," said Senator Andy Manar(D-Decatur).

Before the vote, there was the usual partisan arguing. Republicans say under the bill, Chicago gets special treatment.

"Why should Chicago students get a special block grant?" said Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady.

Sunday’s vote also came after the State Board of Education put out an analysis of Rauner’s changes. The governor’s veto would potentially cost CPS $463 million, according to the SBE. The Board also says 97% of Illinois school districts would get more money.

"It shows that for years the state has been sending money to Chicago at the expense of the rest of the state," Rauner said. "Chicago has been running their schools as a patronage operation for years and not as an education institution."

But the numbers do not factor in future years. Rauner wants to move funding to “per pupil” need, so districts that lose students will lose state money.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also praised the Senate override.

If the House also overrides the veto, the bill will become law. But it needs a three-fifths majority to pass, making override prospects less certain there.