August 4, 2017 Update

The Illinois House and Senate adjourned the special session on education funding reform to the call of the Senate President and the call of the Speaker.
By way of a refresher, the General Assembly narrowly approved an “evidenced based funding model” for education on SB 1 at the end of the Spring Session.  Since its passage, Governor Rauner has repeatedly expressed his opposition to that legislation.  Senate Leaders used a parliamentary procedure to hold that legislation in their chamber pending discussions with the Governor.  This week, the Senate lifted that procedural hold and sent SB 1 to the Governor for his consideration.  As expected, the Governor swiftly responded with an amendatory veto to SB 1.
There is still no agreement on how to fund elementary and secondary education in Illinois.  The Fiscal Year 2018 budget approved in July funds education through a different, yet to be approved “evidenced based funding model”.  This means that while money was appropriated in the budget for elementary and secondary education, there is no mechanism in place to allocate those dollars to schools.  A bipartisan team of legislators continues to negotiate a new funding formula.
The governor’s amendatory veto makes several changes to the underlying bill.  The Governor’s changes include the following:
  • Maintains a per-district hold harmless until the 2020-2021 school year, and then moves to a per-pupil hold harmless based on a three-year rolling average of enrollment.
  • Removes the minimum funding requirement.
  • Removes the Chicago block grant from the funding formula.
  • Removes both Chicago Public Schools pension considerations from the formula: the normal cost pick-up and the unfunded liability deduction.
  • Reintegrates the normal cost pick-up for Chicago Public Schools into the Pension Code.
  • Eliminates the PTELL and TIF equalized assessed value subsidies.
  • Removes the escalators.
  • Retains the floor for the regionalization factor and adds a cap.
  • Removes the accounting for future pension cost shifts to districts in the Adequacy Target.
SB 1 now returns to the General Assembly for its consideration.  What will happen next is unclear. The sponsors could move to either accept the Governor’s recommendations for change or override the Governor’s recommendations. It is unlikely, however, that there are enough votes to reach the super-majority needed to take either one of those actions.  The General Assembly has 15 days to act upon the veto. Pressure to enact a new school funding formula will continue to increase as schools prepare to open for the 2017/2018 school year.
In other news, three Republican legislators, Representative Patti Bellock , Representative Bill Mitchell and Representative Bob Prichard, all announced that they will not be seeking reelection in 2018.  The legislators plan to serve out the remainder of their current term.  More of these announcements are expected in the coming weeks as legislators begin the process to prepare for the 2018 General Election.