Middletown Prairie Elementary school was the site of a press conference Wednesday June 1, where Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner called on Central Illinois residents to urge their lawmakers to work together to pass two non-partisan pieces of legislation that will ensure schools open their doors in the fall and the state’s essential services are funded through January 2017.
Calling yesterday’s failure to pass a state budget for the second year in a row a “stunning failure” on the part of the General Assembly, and a “stunning dereliction of duty,” Rauner traveled to several Illinois towns Wednesday, including Mahomet, Quincy and Peoria, urging residents to contact their representatives and demand those two pieces of legislation be passed.
“The first of these bills funds schools and early childhood education right now so teachers know their buildings will open on time in the fall,” Gov. Rauner told the audience of reporters, Mahomet-Seymour school board members, community members, regional school administrators and human service providers.
He went on to note the bill funds schools at the “foundation level,” which means schools will be funded a certain flat rate. In the past, the budget has not allowed for enough money to fund schools at the Foundation level, so instead the amount of funding was prorated, which resulted in less funding for schools, according to information provided by the Illinois Board of Education.
The second bill Rauner touted was one that will fund government operations and essential services such as Universities, corrections, state health organizations, public safety and other essential operations until January 2017. The hope is a permanent budget would be passed by January. The two bills being promoted are stop-gap bills, according to Rauner.
Illinois has gone nearly 11 months without a budget for this fiscal year. The next fiscal year begins July 1, 2016. The Illinois General Assembly’s deadline to pass next fiscal year’s budget was Midnight on May 31. Since they did not pass a budget by then, General Assembly leaders House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, and Senate President John Cullerton, said they will call their members back into session to attempt to pass a budget, according to Rauner. But rather than passing by a simple majority (51 percent), proposed legislation has to pass by a super majority of 3/5ths. Even after legislation passes by a super majority, there is no guarantee it will become law. Rauner still has veto power.
Mahomet-Seymour school district teachers and administrators, several of whom were in attendance, were thanked by Rauner for their dedication to students. Educators from surrounding school districts and the Regional Office of Education also were present.
Mahomet-Seymour Superintendent, Rick Johnson, welcomed the governor to Mahomet on behalf of the 12,000 residents in the school district and the 3,000 students, some of which were also present.
Senator Chapin Rose, also a Mahomet resident, called the students who attend Middletown Prairie Elementary, including his twin daughters who graduated from there last week, ‘the future of our state.”
Rose went on to say he hopes the state can “rise from the ashes” of our budget crisis “to become the great state of Illinois once again.”