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Rauner in Marion: School funding reform still needs work

  • Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the Marion Chamber of Commerce Friday at the Kokopelli Golf Club in Marion.

    Gov. Bruce Rauner addresses the Marion Chamber of Commerce Friday at the Kokopelli Golf Club in Marion.
    Kristin Moore photo

By Travis DeNeal
updated: 8/25/2017 6:51 PM

MARION -- Gov. Bruce Rauner used an appearance before the Marion Chamber of Commerce Friday to say the tentative school funding bill worked out by the Democratic and Republican leaders still gives too much money to Chicago schools, and that he'll likely address that in future bills.

Only a day before, Rauner's office issued a statement thanking the legislators for their leadership and saying he "looks forward to the coming days when the legislation is passed by both chambers."

Still, the governor told southern Illinois business leaders he is optimistic legislators will approve the school funding bill soon.

Republican and Democratic leaders have worked behind closed doors to find a compromise after Rauner vetoed SB1, which would change how state money is distributed to local schools. In vetoing it, he said the bill diverts too much money from Downstate schools to Chicago, which he reiterated on Friday.

Rauner told business leaders gathered at the Kokopelli Golf Club in Marion that, "We're very close."

But he reiterated his position that without changes, too much money still goes to CPS.

"I think we're on the verge of what is largely good education funding reform," the governor said. "The bad news is Speaker Madigan's caucus took the bill, inserted a bunch of bad things in it, we're trying to get out as many of those as we can."

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown on Friday declined to the Sun-Times to comment on the governor's call for another bill, but remained optimistic the deal can be finalized.

"There's no reason to believe anything has changed," Brown said.

Rauner also said he intends to put more money into state funding of education.

"I don't want to do it by creating higher taxes," Rauner said. "I want to do it by reducing bureaucracy."

He said he also intends to improve technology in state offices. Many offices do too much work by hand, which has created reliance on too many employees. Using more modern and efficient methods, plus improving the state's information technology resources, will eventually allow the state to reduce payroll and associated benefits, he said.

He also pledged to continue to reduce redundancy in locally governing bodies.

"We have about 7,000 units of local government in Illinois," he said. "That's 2,000 more than Texas, which has the next most units of local government."

Rauner said the work of changing Illinois to suit his vision of lower taxes, term limits and equitable school district funding has been difficult.

"When I started this job, I was 6'8" and had a full head of hair," he joked.

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