Wehrli argues school funding should fix problems, not pay for pet projects
Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory veto of the state's K-12 funding bill offers a lesson for all politicians, Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) suggested recently.
“As recently as 2001, the CPS (Chicago Public Schools) pension plan was 99 percent funded, but after (then-Mayor Richard) Daley skipped payments everything was drove in the tank,” Wehrli told the DuPage Policy Journal. “It’s not fair to blow everything on pet projects; we need to be solving our own problems and we need to be acting right away.”
Rauner's veto stripped Senate Bill 1 of additional funding for CPS that was inserted just prior to a vote on the measure in May. For fear of the veto, the Democratic majority held onto the bill after its passage for two months, finally sending it to Rauner on July 31.
“The way the original bill treated Chicago was not beneficial to the district I represent,” Wehrli said. “Deferring all the city’s costs to the rest of state is simply not fair.”
After the governor's veto, SB1, which would introduce evidence-based funding to the state's schools, has been back in the Legislature since Aug. 1, where it faced an Aug. 16 deadline of passage or override. If neither action was taken, the measure would be effectively killed, leaving schools without funding.
Democrats are criticizing Rauner’s goal of switching from per-district to per-pupil funding, arguing it would have dire consequences for city schools, many of which have been hard hit by dwindling enrollments.
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) told the DuPage Journal that evidence-based funding does “nothing to focus on student outcomes” and has failed in every other state where it’s been implemented.