Thursday, June 25, 2015

Rauner will have a few friends in coming weeks; schools get their cash

We’re less than a week away from the point in time when the lack of a budget for state government causes the government to shut down, yet Gov. Bruce Rauner ensured on Wednesday that he will have a few friends remaining.
This bank will get cracked; what about rest of Ill.?

Those “friends” will be the education community; who learned this week that they will continue to get their money – regardless of what happens to the rest of state government.

FOR RAUNER GAVE his signature of support to the bill that covered the part of state government that handled general state aid payments to public schools, early childhood education, bilingual education programs and the Teachers Retirement System.

Rauner had threatened a series of cuts he said would have to be made to state government to balance out the budget without any significant increases in income. Which was his way of saying he’d want some of his anti-labor measures implemented before he’d consider any tax adjustments.

Those cuts would have included a failure to make state aid payments that each and every single public school district in Illinois counts on to cover their operating costs.

Those payments for the upcoming academic year begin in August. Literally, Aug. 10 was the date that public schools would start to suffer because of the political stalemate.

BUT NOW WITH the education appropriations signed off on, Illinois government will be able to pay bills beginning Wednesday that relate to public education.

So we don’t have to worry about our local schools having to cut their spending for the upcoming school year. Or perhaps not having enough money on hand to even begin the new school year – which was a reality that cash-strapped districts in rural Illinois were facing.
RAUNER: Did he make friends, or enemies?

Now, the schools will still have a lack of cash and won’t have any money for extras. But parents all over the state will be able to breathe a sigh of relief at the thought that they’d be stuck with their kids because school couldn’t reopen following summer break.

Also pleased, I’m sure, are the school administrators who currently are putting together their budgets for the upcoming school year without knowing when, or how much, money they would be able to count on from state government.

ADMITTEDLY, THIS DOESN’T resolve the state’s problems. The rest of state government still faces the prospect of a shut-down because the governor and the Legislature’s leadership aren’t capable of coming agreement on how money should be spent.
MADIGAN: Still apart on rest of budget

Or even how much money the state will have for Fiscal 2016.

The fact that education got its appropriations approved first may wind up meaning everything else could wind up having to be cut even more than anticipated.

Even in the statement Rauner issued saying he had signed the education appropriation, he couldn’t help but take a pot shot at the political people who won’t just cave in to his ideological whims.

“I REFUSE TO allow (Illinois House) Speaker (Michael) Madigan and the legislators he controls to hold our schools hostage as part of their plan to protect the political class and force a tax hike on the middle class without real reform,” he said.

Although I’m aware that many educators are viewing this as a matter of Rauner trying to place the blame on them because the business class wants a tax break that will bolster their financial bottom lines.

Seriously, I have encountered many Chicago-area school administrators who are viewing Madigan and his staff to keep them apprised of what is happening in state government and why Rauner is too eager to throw that whole system out-of-whack.

Those people will now be less hostile toward the governor; a few may even come around to seeing his way of thinking. But I suspect he’s still going to have more than his share of enemies who will linger on long after this current partisan spat is resolved.


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