Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed a budget bill that increases K-12 education funding by $269 million dollars and increases early childhood education funding by $25 million. Rauner had initially wanted more school funding (over $300 million), but the Democratic legislators reduced education funding as part of their budget proposal.
Many were concerned that hundreds of schools would fail to open on time this fall due to the ongoing budget battle in Springfield. Rauner’s move ensures that the State will make its scheduled payments to school districts on August 10th.
“I refuse to allow Speaker Madigan and the legislators he controls to hold our schools hostage as part of their plan to protect the political class and force a tax hike on the middle class without real reform,” the Governor announced.
Rauner is pushing for structural economic and political reforms that he says will address the State’s long term issues, such as workers compensation reform, freezing property taxes and removing costly mandates on local governments, term limits, and fair legislative map drawing. Democrats want to raise taxes to cover the $4 billion hole in their budget, but Rauner has said he’s not willing to “throw good money after bad” and won’t discuss new revenue without meaningful reforms.
The budget impasse could still have negative consequences for state workers, non-profits, small businesses, and Medicaid recipients if no deal is reached by June 30th. However, with Rauner’s move today, at least the schools will open.