Desperate Bruce Rauner Pushes the State’s Education System to Brink for Political Gain
Rauner Creates School Crisis with No Plan for Resolution
With his disapproval rating at 63%, Governor Bruce Rauner is desperate for a win. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Rauner has decided to push SB1, the state’s first education funding formula in two decades, to a crisis point putting school funding in jeopardy. While Rauner claims his objections to SB1 are principled, his actions have shown this fight to be more about his political survival than any real policy dispute.
What are you willing to shut down the state’s schools over? For Rauner, it’s not that much. The Quad City Times Editorial Board writes the current battle is over “roughly 2 percent of total educational spending.” Depending on who you ask, the dollar figure is anywhere from $100 million to $400 million. A quick reminder that thanks to Rauner’s two-year budget crisis, the state’s unpaid bills grew $10 billion, requiring the state to pay $800 million yearly in interest.
Why is the exact funding amount in question? Because Rauner’s refused to say what his plan entails. For two weeks, Rauner’s toured the state or held press conferences touting his plan, but has not clarified what is in it. From the Peoria Journal Star Editorial Board:
“Meantime, the governor doesn’t do his own cause many favors when he can’t quite say how he arrived at the numbers he insists make downstate schools big winners, or explain how the savings necessary to do that seem to be coming out of Chicago’s block grant rather than pensions, or be more specific about his promised veto.”
Worst of all, Rauner has created another crisis with no plan to see it through. Again the Quad City Times writes that the “votes simply don’t exist to pass Rauner’s school funding bill.” Rich Miller of Capitol Fax adds:
“Preventing a veto override is the governor’s main effort here, but passing a bill into law that reforms school funding is a whole different matter. Without such a law on the books, billions of dollars of state education formula money can’t be distributed. And as I write this, that solution doesn’t seem to be on anyone’s horizon.”
The Quad City Times Editorial Board sums up the entire fiasco well – “Rauner is scrambling and his agenda is a shambles. And his acts of desperation are making him more difficult to support and defend by the day.”
It’s all politics for Bruce Rauner.
“Bruce Rauner’s political desperation is putting the state’s education at risk,” said DGA Illinois Communications Director Sam Salustro. “Instead of signing the state’s first education formula in decades, Rauner has decided to use school funding as a political tool to help his reelection campaign. Illinois families have seen this no-compromise game from Governor Rauner when he vetoed the state’s first budget in two years, requiring Republican and Democratic lawmakers to override him. And judging by his ranking as ‘most vulnerable incumbent’ in the nation, Illinois voters are tired of Rauner’s self-serving politics.”