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State

Democrats will try to override teachers’ wage veto

Three Democratic lawmakers Wednesday again criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner for vetoing a bill that would have set a minimum wage for teachers and vowed to try to override the veto in November.

Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, Rep. Sue Scherer of Decatur and Rep. Christian Mitchell of Chicago all said setting a higher minimum wage for teachers in Illinois will help alleviate the teacher shortage.

They got agreement from Connie Charlesworth, who has a master’s degree and retired from teaching after 30 years, earning $45,000 a year.

“Our college students are not stupid. They know how to do the math,” she said at Wednesday’s news conference outside the Illinois Education Association building near the Capitol. “They’re taking a look at how much their education is costing them. They’re also taking a look at their starting salary as teachers. They are deciding in great numbers not to go into the profession.”

Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 2892, which would have gradually increased the minimum wage for teachers to $40,000 in the 2022-23 school year. The current minimum wage is $9,000 a year set in 1980. In his veto message, Rauner called the bill an unfunded mandate and something that would remove local control.

“Teachers are our greatest asset and they deserve to be well-compensated for their hard work,” Rauner spokeswoman Patty Schuh said Wednesday. “However, an unaffordable minimum pay mandate is not the most effective way. It could jeopardize school districts’ financial position, diminish educational programming and possibly result in property tax increases.”

Manar said there is no data that shows poorer districts that spend less per pupil than others will immediately be put into financial trouble with the minimum wage.

“The other question I would ask is, can they afford not to have teachers,” Manar said.

Manar also said the new school funding formula can be tweaked to add the minimum teacher wage as a factor in determining how school aid is distributed. The revised formula is designed to be updated regularly to keep it up to date with current education issues.

It could be an uphill battle to try and reverse Rauner’s veto. The bill passed the Senate with 37 “yes” votes, enough to override, but it only got 65 “yes” votes in the House. That’s six votes short of what’s needed to override.

Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr.

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©2018 The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.

Visit The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill. at www.sj-r.com

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