* A bill signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday expands the duties of regional superintendents of schools. Yes, the same regional superintendents who haven’t been paid since the end of June because Quinn vetoed their salaries out of the state budget.
I kid you not.
SB 2170 takes county boards out of the equation when voters approve a sales tax increase for school construction. Up until now, the law gave county boards the option of imposing the sales tax even if voters approved it, and gave county boards the right to reject putting the questions onto the ballot.
The bill also does this…
For all regular elections held on or after the effective date of this amendatory Act of the 97th General Assembly, the regional superintendent of schools for the county must, upon receipt of a resolution or resolutions of school district boards that represent more than 50% of the student enrollment within the county, certify the question to the proper election authority for submission to the electors of the county at the next regular election at which the question lawfully may be submitted to the electors, all in accordance with the Election Code. [Emphasis added.]
Sheesh. This summer has been a comedy of errors.
To be fair, Gov. Quinn hasn’t said that he wants to completely get rid of the regional offices of education. He’s said that locals ought to pay for them if they want them. But it is surely salting the wound by expanding their duties while they’re not getting paid.
* Meanwhile, Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt will decide at noon today what he will do about a lawsuit by the regional superintendents…
A Sangamon County judge said Thursday that he’s aghast at the hardship caused by Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to cancel salaries for the state’s regional school superintendents.
But Circuit Judge John Schmidt also questioned the school officials’ attorney closely Thursday about whether the courts have the authority to interfere with the executive branch of government.
Schmidt said he’ll announce his decision in the case at noon today.
“There are no easy answers, and this case involves significant ramifications of constitutional law for the courts, the executive and the legislative branches,” Schmidt said after hearing arguments in court.
Terence Corrigan, an assistant attorney general representing the state, said courts have previously ruled that payments cannot be made without an appropriation.
“The issue is, ‘Can a court order payment without an appropriation?’ ” Corrigan said.
Schmidt asked if the governor could then just do away with an office created by state law by refusing to fund it.
Quoting a previous court opinion, Corrigan said, “because power can be abused doesn’t mean power doesn’t exist.”
Sangamon County Circuit Judge John Schmidt used the raspberry to punctuate a question about his power to order Gov. Pat Quinn to spend state money.
“What if I issue an order, and the governor says, ‘Plfftt’?,” Schmidt pondered in court Thursday.
Check back at noon for Schmidt’s decision.
* In related news, one regional superintendent is calling it quits…
St. Clair County Regional Superintendent of Schools Brad Harriman said he plans to retire because of the state budget standoff that has left his position unfunded.
“This isn’t the way I wanted things to end,” Harriman said, “but because of circumstances, this is my best option.” […]
Harriman, 57, said he doesn’t see a quick end to the standoff between state lawmakers in favor of restoring the money — which they voted to approve — or the governor who vetoed them. And he doesn’t think any change in the situation would change his mind.
“Even if the funding is restored, frankly I don’t trust the governor,” Harriman said. “And I trust his advisors even less.”
Considering all that’s happened, I can’t blame him for thinking that way.