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Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner threatens 2nd special session to address K-12 education funding

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to Republican supporters in East Alton on April 12, 2017.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner says he needs an education funding bill on his desk by Monday, or lawmakers risk going into a second special session.

Illinois lawmakers will need to return for a second special session if they don't send Gov. Bruce Rauner a bill that revamps the K-12 school funding formula by noon Monday.Rauner said Friday that he wants to give more money every district in the state by cutting the block grant for Chicago Public Schools by $200 million. He's criticized Chicago for the credit it receives from the state toward its unfunded teacher pension liability. But the CPS block grant doesn't go to pensions, but instead things like special education.

"This is historic legislation. It's good legislation. It helps the children in Chicago just like the children in Auburn and the children in Decatur, and Danville, and all over the state of Illinois," the Republican said at a news conference.

All Republican-backed funding plans would redistribute the money cut from CPS block grants to other districts. That’s one reason Rauner’s online spreadsheet shows more-generous payouts to downstate schools.

Rauner said he didn’t know whether the Illinois State Board of Education had been involved in the creation of the spreadsheet. ISBE, which is headed by Rauner appointees, traditionally models funding proposals using their in-depth database. Full models of other proposals, including the Senate bill at issue, which was sponsored by Bunker Hill Democrat Sen. Andy Manar, are available at isbe.net

School districts expect state dollars to start appearing in their bank accounts no later than Aug. 10.

Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) issued a statement saying a special session would be expensive and divisive. Instead, he encouraged the governor to convene a meeting of legislative leaders.

Illinois' first special session resulted in the first state budget in two years, though lawmakers had to override Rauner's veto to do so.