News Local/State

How Much Credit Should Rauner Get For School Funding?

Gov. Bruce Rauner at Ball Charter School in Springfield

Gov. Bruce Rauner chats with students at Ball Charter School in Springfield as he celebrates approval of a new school funding plan. Brian Mackey/NPRIllinois

Gov. Bruce Rauner took,a sort of victory lap Wednesday, visiting a Catholic school, a traditional public school and a charter school to celebrate the Illinois General Assembly's approval of a historic school funding overhaul (SB1947).

The governor didn't show up alone. A handful of lawmakers joined him, including State Representative Avery Bourne, a Republican from Raymond. She served on Rauner's bipartisan school funding reform commission, and was part of a smaller group he briefly assigned to negotiate a compromise.

That was all before he vetoed a Democratic proposal, decrying it as a "bailout" for Chicago Public Schools, and tried to insert his own sweeping changes. Most of his changes didn't make it into the final deal, which provides even more money to CPS than the plan Rauner vetoed.

So after his victory speech, Bourne was asked — what would she say was the governor's main contribution to getting this done?

"You know, I want to commend him for saying 'Get a deal,'” she said. “And I think that was the charge of the governor's office."

When reporters asked Rauner about the most controversial item in the SB1947 compromise — a new tax credit program for private school scholarship donors — he said the idea had come out of his reform commission, where, he said, it had been a big topic of discussion.

Bourne, who served on that commission, disputed that claim. She said what finally got this contentious issue solved was moving Chicago pension costs into the statewide system, and offering some property tax relief for wealthy districts.

"I think those have been the governor's priorities, but I think that these negotiations really took place in the legislature," she said, indicating credit should go to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate — Republicans Jim Durkin and Bill Brady, and Democrats John Cullerton and Michael Madigan.

Rauner says he'll sign it into law on Thursday.