CHICAGO - The Illinois Republican Party is very pleased with the education bill compromise the four party leaders and Governor Rauner have arrived at, but at least two GOP House members are very disappointed with the plan they could be asked to vote on as soon as next week. [UPDATE: One Democrat House member is now on record opposing it, too.]
The compromise of SB 1 will still attempt to bailout Chicago Public Schools' pension debacle and deepen the state's financial problems while adding in scholarship tax credits.
"Yesterday, Governor Rauner, House and Senate Republicans, and House and Senate Democrats announced a compromise plan to pass historic education funding reform," a statement from the IL GOP said Friday. "It proves that bipartisanship is still possible in Illinois."
Dundee's GOP State Rep Allen Skillicorn isn't as enthusiastic, especially since early reports indicate the school funding compromise to replace SB1 includes the same Chicago Pension Bailout or more.
"Not a dime of this money is going to the kids. A yes vote for this is a vote to shovel millions more to the special interests who oppose reform and stand in the way of 21st century education," Skillicorn said in a statement issued Friday. "I'm troubled that the Governor and Republicans will so easily conspire with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel."
"We can't forget that this crisis started because Speaker Madigan added this poison pill [the Chicago bailout] into the last month's tax hike. If those 16 Republicans and most Democrats had read the bill, our schools wouldn't be hostages," Skillicorn said.
The Illinois GOP said "strong negotiations led by House GOP Leader Jim Durkin and Senate GOP Leader Bill Brady" poises Illinois to have a school choice program for the first time – something the Chicago Teachers Union is not happy about.
This plan will simply make things worse - much worse, State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington) told Illinois Review Friday.
"The 'compromise' education formula deal appears to be a total capitulation by the Governor. I now understand why Mayor Emanuel is so happy," McSweeney said.
Under the plan as McSweeney reads it, CPS could get even more money than under SB 1 and the state will spend about $7.5 billion more on education over the next ten years without real reforms that cut school administrative costs and encourage consolidation.
It may actually force yet another tax hike, McSweeney said.
"While I support the scholarship tax credits, overall, this is a bad deal for taxpayers that will set up immediate pressure for another harmful tax hike."
UPDATE: Democrat State Rep. Will Guzzardi of Chicago is opposed to the compromise the four leaders have agreed upon - hinting that it may not be so easy to get the three-fifths needed to override the Governor's veto.
Legislative leaders in Springfield have proposed a resolution to the state's school funding crisis. That compromise contains a $75 million annual tax credit for wealthy people who donate to private scholarships, Guzzardi's statement says.
"The General Assembly needs to reject this deal. Giving rich people a huge tax loophole for driving students out of public schools and into private schools is bad public policy," Guzzardi said. "It undermines public education and increases wealth inequality."
Guzzardi said that the legislature should instead pass school funding that supports every public school in our state, especially those schools that serve our students in greatest need.
More to come ...