School funding dispute continues as teachers, students protest delay

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The school year about to begin but state funding for Illinois schools is still a question mark.

Now lawmakers are working on some answers to the problem that would include money for parochial schools.

There are discussions between leaders from both political parties to include, in a school funding bill, an idea that comes from Cardinal Blase Cupich: offering tax credits to those who contribute to private schools. Others hope it won't come to that if lawmakers over ride Governor Bruce Rauner's veto of Senate Bill 1.

As joggers run the 606 Trail, students stage a school funding protest by sitting in schools desks lined up along the trail.

Their action comes on the same day school districts around Illinois, including Chicago Public Schools, are owed state money for the upcoming school year, but can't get it until SB1, the school funding bill becomes law.

"Rahm and Bruce need to stop pointing fingers at each other and take responsibility to fund schools," said CPS parent Jennifer Barrera.

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not letting up on his anger toward Governor Rauner for vetoing SB1 legislation that changes the funding formula making education more equitable for every school district. Touting a rise in CPS test scores, Emanuel urges lawmakers to override Rauner's veto.

"Kids of Chicago not only deserve the funding, they not only need funding but these test scores prove that they have earned the funding," said Mayor Emanuel.

"I don't believe Senate Bill 1 is going anywhere, I don't believe it will become law, so If we can find reasonable compromise school funding, but one better for the state of Illinois," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, Republican House Minority Leader.

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says a compromise would mean considering Cardinal Blase Cupich's idea of giving tax credits to anyone who donates scholarship money for parochial and private schools. It is a plan being discussed behind the scenes in Springfield - one that makes many supporters of public education furious.

"If you are going to introduce vouchers in the state of Illinois, it shouldn't be through a back room negotiation tactic, it should be massive debate, because it's a huge change in policy," said Wendy Katten with Raise Your Hand.

When asked if he supports vouchers or tax credits for private education, Mayor Rahm Emanuel says his first responsibility is for public schools.

The administrators of schools across Illinois said they will be forced to cut corners if Governor Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Mike Madigan can't reach an agreement.

The state's schools were supposed to receive the first round of state funding Thursday. But that won't happen, in part, because of the governor partial veto of Senate Bill 1, an overhaul of the Illinois public school system.

Lawmakers now have to decide to override that partial veto, come up with a compromise or let the bill stand as is.

The Illinois Senate will meet Sunday to make its decision, which is likely to pass.

"We will not accept the governor's amendatory veto. What we will seek to do is override his veto on Senate Bill 1, with or without a compromise," State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said.

Once the bill goes through the Illinois Senate, it will be sent to the Illinois House floor on Wednesday.
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