Fight over Illinois school funding continues, lawmakers hear from school superintendents

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CHICAGO -- Wednesday, Illinois school superintendents opposed to Governor Rauner’s mandatory veto lashed out at an Education hearing called by Democrats.

Schools districts are about to feel impact of this political battle, more than 800 school districts were due to receive money Thursday, but that won't happen without a new funding formula.

"I think it’s important that the committee understand - that everyone understand - that what is being done in the amendatory veto will affect us greatly,"  said Nate Cunningham, superintendent of Crete Monee to lawmakers at the hearing.

"I don’t know what those schools are going to do if they don’t have something happen fast.  It’s not a perfect bill, but we have to do something," said Lonnie Lemon, superintendent of Oak Grove School District 68.

One rewrite in Governor Rauner’s veto is gaining a lot of attention.

The governor adjusts how limitations on property tax increases and tax increment finance districts, known as TIFs, should be accounted for when determining new state money for schools.

Republicans says school districts are hiding TIF money to appear less wealthy.

"In the state of Illinois, essential, it’s been determined that there are about $12.4 billion that are hidden in TIF districts of EEB value and over half of that is in Chicago," said Rep. Jeannie Ives (R-Wheaton).

Democrats say Rauner is going after TIF districts to strip money from Chicago, and in do so, other schools have become collateral damage.

"I know the governor is trying to sock it to Chicago. There are school district in the state that have more property value tied up in TIFFs than does Chicago," said Rep. Barbara Flynn Curry (D-Chicago).

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Decatur) said that "the focus is on Chicago because it elicits visceral reactions from downstate voters."

Once again today, the governor defended his veto and claimed under his changes Chicago still gets a bonus.

Rauner said that Chicago along with Rockford, Cicero, Maywood, Blue Island, Dolton and Harvey are going to get more money. "This is important this is a social justice issue," he said.

But the governor’s veto strips out most of the $250 million block grant for Chicago Public Schools and changes the pension assistance for the district.

Senate Democrats will look to override the governor’s veto on Sunday.  Today, they said they have the votes. The House will have to act as well. In that chamber, Republicans say they’re confident the override will fail.

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