Rahm calls on Rauner to sign education funding bill left in limbo

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CHICAGO (WLS) -- Now that Illinois has a budget, there is still one critical bill dealing with education funding that remains in limbo, and its future will have a major impact on Chicago Public Schools. Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel called out Governor Bruce Rauner over his opposition to it.

Lawmakers in both the Illinois House and Illinois Senate have passed SB-1, but the governor has threatened to veto it, calling it a bailout for Chicago Public Schools. However, without the funding in the bill Chicago and other school districts around the state will face major budget problems, and some may not be able to open in the fall.

On a day when Emanuel was touring Amazon's new Chicago office as they announced an expansion plan, his sights seemed focused on delivering an education funding package that is critical to the future of CPS.

"That's the number one effort," Emanuel said.

The bill reforms the funding formula for schools across the state. Currently, Chicago is the only school district where the state does not pick up the employer portion of the pension payments. SB-1 would change that, which the mayor said makes funding more equitable. He called out Governor Rauner, saying he's more about roadblocks than reforms.

"This legislation was drafted, Democrats and Republicans worked on it, it meets 90 percent of your target, and you're going to veto it? That means you're not serious about governing and leading this state forward," he said.

The mayor did have praise for Amazon, which currently employs 200 workers and announced plans to hire more.

"I am extremely excited to announce that we actually have signed a lease to double our office space, so we will be able to support 400 Amazonians here in downtown Chicago," said Samantha Singer, Amazon General Manager for Chicago.

But with more than 400,000 public school students to worry about, the mayor is hoping lawmakers can pull together bipartisan support to override another expected veto from the governor. Regardless, the mayor vowed there will be no opening day delays.

"Our kids, the kids in the city of Chicago, will be in school on the start of the school year, and spend the whole years and a full school day for the school year, and I hope that's true for the rest of the children of the state of Illinois," Emanuel said.

Right now, SB-1 is stuck in the senate, and the support it initially received fell short of what will be needed for a veto override, making it likely that another high-stakes showdown in lies ahead in Springfield.
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