Breen helped kill, replace 'unfair' school funding measure in House
Illinois’ premier education funding reform measure, Senate Bill 1, died in the General Assembly on Aug. 28 as a new compromise bill, SB1947, replaced it and passed in Springfield.
The House fell eight votes short of following the Senate in overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of SB1, which would have turned it into law. An override required 71 votes.
Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) argued that SB1 was not a bill of compromise.
“That bill was not ready for prime time,” Breen said. “It was force-fed on the people of the state and on the Republican minority. We need to compromise, and the compromise bill was better than SB1 in that particular regard. Again, [SB1947] was not perfect … but SB1 is not the solution for our [education] funding problems.”
SB1 traveled a tumultuous road filled with delays and contentious debate in the Senate and House. Originally passed in both chambers in May, the bill sat in the Senate for almost two months until Gov. Bruce Rauner enacted a special legislative session to prompt lawmakers to send the bill to his desk.
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) eventually sent SB1 to Rauner on the final day of the special session only to have Rauner immediately issue an amendatory veto of it on Aug. 1.
The Senate overrode his veto on Aug. 13, but the House did not take up the measure until Aug. 28, after it failed to pass SB1947 on its first attempt.
Many Republicans found fault with SB1 as it was originally written, especially in certain provisions that would provide Chicago Public Schools with what was deemed an unfair amount of monetary support and flexibility.
Breen framed these provisions as a problem reminiscent of what happened two decades ago.
“It was my understanding that in 1995, this General Assembly gave the city of Chicago flexibility with what had been its pension contribution," he said. "Apparently … it turned into a zero-funding level for a decade, which then severely underfunded the Chicago Teachers Pension fund. It is my understanding that SB1 in the same way does not force the money that is being provide for the pension through the base funding minimum to actually go to the Chicago Teacher Pension fund.”
Breen urged a "no" vote on an override for SB1 and enough members of the House agreed to prevent its passage.
As SB1 died, a motion to reconsider SB1947 was put forth and succeeded. SB1947, a bill that will supposedly fund schools across the state in a fair and equitable way via an evidence-based funding model, passed the House 73 to 34. The Senate passed it a day later, and Rauner signed it into law two days after that.