Democrats Send the Education Funding Bill to Gov, But It’s Unclear What Happens Next

Springfield, July 31– Gov Rauner waited for nearly two months for an education funding bill that passed the legislature before the end of May to come to his desk, so he could take action on it.

SB-1, the bill that would reform school teaching be moved to an “Evidence Based” model, that looks at what has been proven to work over the years in teaching students various lessons.  But the bill also included over $220 million that would go to Chicago Public Schools, so they can make their pension payment.

Now, the governor argues, it’s not fair to bail out Chicago Public Schools for their gross mismanagement, by having taxpayers across the state pick up the cost of their mismanagement, which is why he’s promised to eliminate that from the education funding bill.

That’s the primary reason the Democratic Leaders in the legislature have held the bill from coming to the Governor.

Now, after waiting eight weeks for the bill to arrive on his desk, on Monday at 5 pm, the bill was delivered to the Governor’s office, with no agreement reached to keep the money for Chicago in the bill.

As with the recent struggle over passing a state budget, the effort to provide funding for K-12 education, has become mired in a stew of political maneuvering that had each side throwing out charges that students, schools and families were being taken advantage of for political purposes.

And both sides were right.

The Governor and the Republicans in the legislature could point out that the bill was being withheld from the governor, and risked a funding crisis for the schools, as we are now two weeks away from opening day for many schools, with no funding bill in place.

And for their part, the Democrats in the legislature worked to make it seem that the governor was  — yet again — going out of his way to withhold funds for Chicago students. They make the point, the governor has failed to lead, and that the discussion now being held, could have happened weeks ago.

Many observers in the Capitol, seemed to think the governor had the moral high ground on the issue, as the legislature DID pass the funding bill in May, and then purposely withheld it from him, until this afternoon.  If they wanted a renegotiation of the bill, many argued, they could have had that at any point over the last eight weeks.

Sen Andy Manar (D) briefs reporters on the talks on SB-1 being held with Republicans

But talks were underway Monday in the Capitol — Senators Andy Manar, the chief author of the education bill, was joined by Sen Kim Lightford and Rep Will Davis, to brief reporters on what they said were cordial discussions, that were in a state of flux.

Yet a short time later, Sen Jason Barickman, told reporters he met with the Democrats on the promise they would give a substantial offer on the bill.  Yet, said Barickman, when they met there was no offer forthcoming.

Sen Barickman, “The Governor’s been very clear the Democrats should send SB-1 to the Governor”

So once again, Illinois public policy seems to be caught up in an environment in the Capitol, where no one trusts the other side, and we are engaged more in battling press conferences, as a way of conducting public policy.

We are again at a point in Illinois politics, where the effort seems more focused on scoring political points, than in engaging in good faith discussions on how to get this state back on track, to funding the government, and funding the schools, in a predictable manner, so that those who operate the schools, may know in advance, how much they will be getting to educate children, and then make their management decisions, without doing so in the context of a crisis, forced upon them by those who talk, but so often fail to find agreement.