Illinois lawmakers to meet privately in Chicago on school funding

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Top Illinois lawmakers will have a private meeting Thursday at the Thompson Center in Chicago to talk about how to get past Governor Bruce Rauner's partial veto of the school funding bill or SB1.

This will be the fourth time leaders have met in the past week, in what has been a marathon negotiation session on how to fund state schools.

The last session in Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan's office lasted more than five hours. Leaders called it the most productive round of discussions thus far.

There's wide agreement that the state's 20-year-old school funding formula is unfair. But Democrats and Republicans disagree over how to fix it.

In Thursday's meeting, both Democratic and Republican leaders are expected to address a possible $75 million school voucher plan, whether property taxes can be raised for Chicago Public Schools and whether to relax state requirements for local districts, on programs like physical education and driver's education.

The budget state legislators approved last month over Gov. Bruce Rauner's objections requires a new formula for schools to get state money this academic year.
Rauner, a Republican, rejected the proposal majority Democrats sent him. Rauner said he did so because SB1, which would have provided Chicago with millions to pay teachers pensions, took money away from poorer districts.

The Senate overrode Rauner's veto.

As the battle over the funding bill drones on, some superintendents from poorer downstate districts called for a veto override compromise that still helps Chicago.

"No red numbers for Chicago, for Sandoval, for East St. Louis. No red numbers for anybody," said Dr. Jennifer Garrison, Superintendent of Sandoval School District 501.

"We ask that both parties put aside these differences for at least the next six days and get this thing done," said Chuck Lane, Superintendent of Centralia High School District 200.

Madigan says if there's no compromise this week between leaders, he'll schedule a House override vote next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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