On Monday, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an amendatory veto of legislation required to implement a historic school funding bill, saying it needed to “be cleaned up” to allow students attending three dozen private schools to take advantage of a new tax-credit scholarship program, therefore sending it back to lawmakers.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the veto stirred an important sponsor of the school funding measure — a measure that’s goal is to give more money to the state’s neediest school districts — to accuse Rauner of creating “absolute chaos.”
The news outlet reported that according to supporters of the school funding measure, the Illinois State Board of Education was ready to begin a system of distributing dollars by March. But the governor’s office argued that it was “unfair” for “critics” to deem Rauner’s amendatory veto cause for a delay implementation of the school funding measure – as according to a spokeswoman for the state – they are “several months” away from implementing the dollars.
The fight has been a year-long saga to attempt to shift the way the state distributes money to public schools and was elevated last August when Rauner vetoed a school funding measure. According to the Sun-Times, weeks later, lawmakers approved a compromise measure which included the scholarship program acclaimed by Cardinal Blase Cupich but denounced by the Chicago Teacher Union.
According to the Sun-Times, in the amendatory veto of a Senate trailer bill passed back in November, Rauner argued that the bill – which offers tax-credit scholarships to low-income students who attend private schools – is unfairly limited to schools “recognized” by the Illinois State Board of Education, as opposed to any school “registered” with the board.
“While it is prudent to require compliance with ISBE measures that protect the health, safety and well-being of students, the current timelines to become recognized will exclude at least 36 schools that are still in the process of registering for and moving toward recognition,” the governor stated in his amendatory veto message, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “The ramifications of this initial exclusion could potentially last for two years.
“The students attending or looking to attend these schools deserve the same access to Invest in Kids scholarships as those in already recognized schools. Their educational opportunities cannot wait for years,” Rauner continued.
According to the Sun-Times, it was recorded in a separate news release the governor saying that the “defect” in the bill that passed would exclude 36 Catholic and other private schools, “many of which serve African-American communities” from taking advantage of the scholarship program. The news outlet reported State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, saying Rauner’s amendatory veto, was the equivalent of tossing “his own request in the trash.”
“Here’s what Gov. Rauner accomplished today: absolute chaos while undoing all of the equity components in the school funding reform legislation that he takes credit for passing,” Manar said in a statement, according to the Sun-Times. “I am perplexed and puzzled by the motivations of this governor who claims to care deeply about public education in Illinois. “Why would he veto a bill that he sought in the first place?”
According to the news outlet, the Illinois Senate returns to session on Jan. 30 and lawmakers can either accept the changes, reject them with an override or choose not to take up the veto — which would kill the measure.