Governor Bruce Rauner visited two local schools today, urging lawmakers to find more money for education. As the budget impasse continues, the governor wants lawmakers to do what they did last year and appropriate money for education so schools will open on time in the fall.
"No matter what else happens in the state budget, our schools should get more money and they should open on time," said Rauner.
After touring the west suburban Lyons Township High School, the governor said Springfield lawmakers should focus on increasing state aid to schools, and that democrats should drop their demand for an immediate change in the way Illinois funds education.
"That's wrong. Our schools shouldn't be held hostage. We've gotta put more money in schools, while we continue to work on a bi-partisan basis to come up with a school funding formula change," he said.
The state senate will consider a bill to phase in a new funding formula so that poor districts receive a larger share of state aid than wealthier districts. Minority leader Jim Durkin, who represents Lyons Township, says no district should lose money.
"I'm not going to penalize a school which has been prudent with their finances and has done a good job with taxpayer's money," Durkin said.
State senator Andy Manar is sponsoring the funding reform bill, but the governor says he needs to know more about it.
"I would have to study Andy's bill more. I just got the numbers the other day," stated Rauner.
"You should know I gave the Governor the bill on February 11th, I've been waiting patiently for his suggested changes," Manar said.
A plan to call it for a senate vote last week was scrapped. Manar says he'll try again this week.
Apparently, there is some resistance among suburban and downstate democrats who fear their schools could lose money.
On another front, Rauner called himself "surprised" that the state department of education determined that the Chicago Public Schools is not in such bad financial shape it would qualify for a state takeover.
"What I have seen myself so far, the trends are bad. There is a financial crisis. And something needs to be done," Rauner said.
Governor Rauner pushes fix for Illinois education funding