Decision by governor is curious, indeed
Remember way back to last year (actually, a couple of weeks ago in December) when Gov. Bruce Rauner listed his top achievements of the year? Remember what was No. 1? School funding reform.
True, Rauner vetoed an initial version of funding reform, but a compromise was reached and a bill passed, which Rauner signed into law with great fanfare.
But as often happens with complicated legislation, the funding reform legislation needed a follow-up bill to clarify a couple of issues and allow the state Board of Education to implement the new funding formula.
The administration asked for the follow-up bill, and lawmakers approved it. And then Rauner used his amendatory veto powers to rewrite the follow-up bill, which ground everything to a halt.
The people who pushed for funding reform are furious. Rauner’s rewrite, they insist, has nothing to do with improving funding reform and everything to do with a scholarship program for private schools that is about the only thing Rauner has to show for vetoing the first bill.
But now there is a risk that the extra K-12 education money put into the budget for the new formula won’t get to schools this year.
It may all yet be resolved quickly, but it’s still a curious way for the governor to treat his No. 1 accomplishment from last year.
“It was the governor who screwed this up, not the Legislature.”
– Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, an author of school funding reform, on the reform measure now being in limbo.
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“I’ve been there numerous times. I’ve toured it and been a part of various undertakings and goings on at that home. It’s a beautiful facility full of beautiful people. However, it’s a facility that’s making people sick and it’s killing people.”
– Sen. Sam McCann, R-Plainview, speaking last week about the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy.
While we’re considering unfinished business, you may recall the issue of the large deficit that Rauner says is part of the state budget passed in July.
Rauner initially put the deficit at $1.7 billion. In early October, he identified about $200 million in cuts he planned to make to human services, transportation and agriculture programs. That left a deficit of $1.5 billion. The governor said he wanted to work with lawmakers to identify the additional cuts to eliminate the budget hole.
There’s been no evidence that negotiations are going on or producing any results, but maybe that’s because we weren’t paying attention.
So we asked Rauner’s office about what additional steps had been taken to close the gap. After several delays, this is the response from the administration.
“The administration is in the process of crafting an FY19 budget proposal, details of which will be discussed in February.”
We’ll take that as a sign that nothing more has been done.
A clarification is in order for a goof I made here last week.
In an item about the bicentennial minutes being produced as part of the state’s bicentennial celebration this year, I credited a Jan. 5 entry about Mr. Green Jeans of Captain Kangaroo fame being born in Illinois to one of those minutes.
Nope. It was part of the “I Like Illinois” series (ilikeillinois.com) that was launched by Senate President John Cullerton’s office awhile back to highlight good things about the state.
As the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum pointed out, the official bicentennial minute for Jan. 5 dealt with the all-time cold temperature for Illinois being recorded on that date in 1999 in Congerville. It was 36 below.
So in summation, apologies to the writers of the bicentennial minutes, the writers of the I Like Illinois segments, Congerville, Mr. Green Jeans, and others who have yet to be identified.