Members of the Illinois House of Representatives are heading back to Springfield to try and negotiate a plan to pay for schools throughout the state.
The Illinois Senate on Sunday voted 38-19 in favor of overriding Governor Rauner’s amendatory veto on Senate Bill 1. With that, the school funding legislation now moves to the House, which is set to meet in Springfield today.
Among the lawmakers who voted “yes” to overriding the amendatory veto on Sunday was local Senator Sam McCann. While McCann says Senate Bill 1 is not perfect, he also says that he took issue with several key changes found in Rauner’s veto.
“Number one, it creates a cliff. After year one or year two, it could be as early as next year, because of the way the Governor describes PTEL, which is tax-capped counties which we have a ton of those in downstate Illinois, because the way he handles tax caps and TIFs. So a lot of areas in my district and around the state utilize TIFs, so TIFs and tax-capped counties have to count the full value of that real estate, not the TIF value or the capped value,” says McCann.
McCann expands on how this issue would affect west central Illinois.
“So what that means is that in this evidence-based model under the Governor’s veto, after the one or two year hold, we’re going to have to do either one of two things in many of the down state districts, we’ll either have to raise property taxes to pay for the lack of funds we could get, or we would have to layoff teachers, reduce the number of bus runs. So we’d either have to reduce services or increase local property tax, which of course is the entire problem that we were trying to fix in the first place. The amendatory veto flies in the face of what we were trying to do in the first place,” McCann explains.
McCann says that the effects of Rauner’s proposed changes wouldn’t necessarily be obvious right away. Rather than looking at the immediate impact, he says lawmakers should consider the long term effects.
“In year one is it a killer? Probably not. But in years two and three and four you start noticing a big difference because of all these new teachers coming in and you’re picking up their pension payments. In year 20 or year 30 when some of these teachers start to cycle out, we’re going to have to raise property taxes. Which again, it defeats the whole reason for undertaking this exercise. Just those two issues right there alone is enough to make the Governor’s amendatory veto a non-starter. It’s a cliff for downstate that I’m not going to push downstate over,” says
The third aspect of Rauner’s veto that concerns McCann is a change after a few years from a per-district model to a per-pupil model. He says this change would create inequity in the state’s school funding, which is precisely the problem they’re currently trying to fix.
When asked his thoughts on what might take place as the House meets, McCann says he can’t say for certainty what they might do, though he ssys he’s been encouraging House Republicans to dig deep and do the right thing. And the right thing in McCann’s view, is to let schools open, to bring parity to the pension process, and not make the situation worse with an amendatory veto.
According to an article in the Associated Press, Home Democrats plan to put the changes made by Rauner into a new piece of legislation and call it for a vote, realizing that it is likely to be shot down. The article says this move would allow Democrats to present a lack of support for Rauner’s edits and provide more time to get the 71 votes required to override the veto.
And they’ll likely need to use that time to convince at least four House Republicans to vote against party lines, given the Illinois House is comprised of only 67 Democrats.