Ives condemns Senate education bill as Chicago bailout
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) wants Gov. Bruce Rauner to veto Senate Bill 1 rather than provide Chicago Public Schools a financial reward for years of mismanagement, she said in a press release recently.
SB1 would change the distribution of state funds for public education to an evidence-based model, and although it has passed the General Assembly, it has not been sent to Rauner, who has vowed to veto it.
The bill would provide approximately $220 million in funding for CPS pension payments, which Rauner and Ives have described as a bailout of the system. CPS is the only public school district not to receive state funding for pension payments because its teachers are in a separate pension system.
“This bill would enshrine into state law that suburban taxpayers bail out corrupt and mismanaged Chicago Public Schools (CPS) over the next generation,” Ives said, according to the release. “They are a bloated, corrupt and mismanaged organization. After CPS intentionally skipped pension payments for 10 years, it now owes $10 billion to current and future retirees. CPS has more than $7 billion in other debt at ‘junk’ interest rates.”
Ives’ release notes that CPS’ debts currently exceed both its annual budget and the state’s total education spending by a factor of three. By diverting state funds to CPS pension payments, Ives contends, the General Assembly would spark higher property tax rates for those in suburban areas.
Ives further takes issue with the authorship of the bill, which she says did not originate with elected public officials.
“It is legislation written by insiders and lobbyists – not by legislators who represent taxpayers, parents and children,” Ives said in the release. “SB 1 is described using multiple spreadsheets with up to 89 columns attempt to cost out every expense in educating a public school student,” Ives said. “When I had more difficult questions, I was directed by our Republican staff and the Illinois State Board of Education staff to ask [Illinois Association of School Business Executive Director] Michael Jacoby, [Center for Tax and Budget Accountability Executive Director] Ralph Martire or Ben Moore – three unelected, politically-connected liberal lobbyists who are virtually unknown to Illinois families - to answer my questions, as they had written the new formula.”
Ives also criticized SB1 for tying school district accountability to how education spending is allocated, noting that this means schools are not necessarily judged based on student performance on state tests. The bill also classifies school districts based on whether they are adequately funded.
“Expect superintendents to complain that according to the state they are not ‘adequately funded,’ and, therefore, should not be held accountable for improved results,” Ives said, according to the release. “They made a similar argument when the state prorated General State Aid (GSA) payments in the past.”
Ives’ biggest criticism of the bill comes down to the costs to suburban residents and the diversion of funding to CPS. The release makes it clear that, thanks to those provisions, she believes Rauner should veto the bill “as soon as it hits his desk.”
“The new money from the recent 32% income tax increase will fund these increasing demands,” Ives said in the statemrent. “Now we know that that tax increase, projected to take $557 million from DuPage County taxpayers, will go partly to CPS instead…[I]f we cannot agree there is something wrong with a bill that mandates taxpayers spend $21,730 to educate a kindergartner in West Chicago, then I don’t know what we can agree on. Governor Rauner should veto this bill and start over.”