Bourne calls on Dems to stop playing games with school funding measure
It's time to put away childish games, Rep. Avery Bourne (R-Raymond) told Democrats in recent remarks regarding state funding of public education.
“It is morally wrong to hold schools hostage and to say that schools won’t open if you don’t get your way,” Bourne said. “Either work with us on this side of the aisle for a new solution or send the bill to the governor. Those are the options, but to sit here and say that we have no work to do is wrong. We have important work to do to make sure that our schools open. We have to get this done.”
Senate Bill 1, which passed both houses during the spring legislative session, would fund K-12 schools across the state but was only recently sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office. The delay prompted Rauner to call a second special session.
“We’re here to do something we should have done before May 31,” Bourne said. “We’re here to pass real education funding reform that is bipartisan and helps every school in the state. There is broad bipartisan support on both sides of the aisle that we need a new school funding formula, and we need it this year. We cannot wait.”
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has publicly acknowledged withholding SB1 to “allow” lawmakers to cool off. He also questioned Rauner's mental fitness.
Bourne, who has been on several education funding commissions and task forces, expressed disappointment at how countless hours of “groundbreaking, bipartisan work” were discarded or altered.
“Unsurprisingly, in this chamber, at the last second, negotiations were cut off, amendments were filed that benefited Chicago, and pieces were put into the bill that were never previously discussed in any of the school funding formula meetings that I have been in,” Bourne said. “That includes a $505 million local capacity target credit for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for their legacy pensions.”
Rauner has used an amendatory veto to remove those CPS provisions and distribute the money to schools throughout the state.
Bourne also disputed Democratic contentions that the GOP has wavered in what it wants.
“We’ve been very clear on this side of the aisle going back to the governor’s school funding reform commission, going back to the task force in the House,” Bourne said. “I was in meetings throughout the discussions in the House on SB1. We’ve been very clear on what we want to see in the school funding formula. To say that you don’t know our plan or to say that we are not open to negotiations is patently false. This has happened the entire time.”