Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Rauner can’t say who came up with his school funding numbers, gets history totally wrong on CPS
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Rauner can’t say who came up with his school funding numbers, gets history totally wrong on CPS

Friday, Jul 21, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Gov. Rauner was asked repeatedly by Statehouse reporters today to explain his planned school funding reform changes. First up, who did the district-by-district analysis?

REPORTER: Did ISBE score this version of your amendatory veto?

RAUNER: Uh, I don’t know. We, we’ve done the calculations.

REPORTER: Who is we?

RAUNER: Our administration in conjunction with, uh, our legislators and in conjunction with, uh, school officials.

Well, that totally explains everything. I’m so relieved. He’s out there spouting numbers and isn’t even sure where they came from. Excellent work.

* On to what it does. As you’ll recall, Rauner’s own website (which also has the district-by-district breakdown) explains his amendatory veto this way

The SB 1 number accounts for CPS’ tier funding and FY18 new pension pick-up, and the Governor’s plan number accounts for CPS’ tier funding, FY18 new pension pick-up, and net result of Chicago Block Grant elimination.

* But we don’t have any actual language yet, so a reporter asked him about it

REPORTER: Your website said you were eliminating the Chicago block grant.

RAUNER: OK. So, what we are going to do is make sure that the pension payments are treated separately. Chicago has received a special block grant that no other school district gets. Auburn doesn’t get any of that money. Springfield, Decatur doesn’t get any of that money. And that was put in place more than 20 years ago because Chicago pays its own pensions. So, we, all of us in Illinois, taxpayers have been funding, um, Chicago extra money. $250 million per year, in large part because Chicago pays its own teacher pension. That’s a, that was the, that was the tradeoff, that was the negotiated agreement.

* This is from Gov. Rauner’s own legal filing in defense of a lawsuit brought by CPS over its state funding

In 1995, the Illinois General Assembly passed legislation providing for an annual “block grant” to CPS in lieu of separate funding for each program that the categorical grants fund for non-CPS schools. 105 ILCS 5/1D-1. CPS receives block grant funding for, among other things, bilingual education, the State lunch and free breakfast program, educational service centers, special education (funding for children requiring services, orphanage, personnel, private tuition, summer school, and transportation), regular and vocational transportation, agriculture education, early childhood education, and truants’ optional education. [Emphasis added.]

So, CPS didn’t get the block grant because of their pension payments, as Rauner claimed today. CPS got the block grant in lieu of categorical funding that every other district receives.

* The governor went on to say that after years of not properly funding their pensions, CPS wants both pension funding and a block grant and that’s just not fair. Except the block grant replaced categoricals and CPS is the only school district in the state that pays its pension costs, including its legacy costs.

However, according to the governor’s legal filing, CPS is currently receiving the same proportion of funding for its block grant as it did in 1995. So, there is most definitely an argument to be made against that block grant. What the governor said today isn’t that argument.


  1. - Lamont - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 11:48 am:

    With his deficits in the the thinking department I have two questions:
    1.) How did this guy become a near-billionaire?
    2.) How did this guy become governor?

  2. - PJ - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 11:49 am:

    When you’re in no way tethered to reality, I wonder how you decide when to stop. Why not claim your AV will provide an additional $2,000 per student to every district in Illinois? Why not $100,00 and a gold-plated MacBook Air?

    After all, they’ve uh … done the, uh, … calculations.

  3. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    ===…Our administration in conjunction with, uh, our legislators and in conjunction with, uh, school officials.===

    The Governor of the 5th largest state in America is making a policy decision on numbers this Governor can’t fully explain where they came from.

    Let that fester for a moment.

    Rauner is using “specific” numbers from a place “un-specific” to their origin.


  4. - JohnnyPyleDriver - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    ==CPS is currently receiving the same proportion of funding for its block grant as it did in 1995. So, there is most definitely an argument to be made against that block grant. What the governor said today isn’t that argument.==

    Rich, can you clarify what you mean here? Is it that “CPS receives the same proportion…” despite having fewer students now than they had in 1995?

  5. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    Might as well headline every post: “Today in Rauner lies”

  6. - Political Animal - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    If it’s true that Chicago doesn’t get categorical grants, then the Republican position doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

  7. - Fact Checker - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    Nice job Rich in calling out the Gov on his misstatements.

    The governor has from day one engaged in pure demagoguery on this issue, playing the regional and racial division game as part of a cynical political calculus.

    Bottom line is if you take the block grant and every other source of CPS funding and compare it to all sources of funding elsewhere in Illinois, CPS comes out on the short end of the stick.

    As Greg Hinz of Crain’s reported today, SB 1 just takes CPS from 15 percent of state funding to 16 percent, despite having 19 percent of the students. That’s because the increase is relatively modest and the state is shoveling hundreds of millions more out the door for pension subsidies to suburban and downstate districts.

    Even the Tribune, which has supported the governor’s agenda 100 percent, says its not a CPS bailout and that CPS comes up $500 million short of enrollment under the current funding system.

    Finally, let’s remember who underfunded pensions more than Chicago–the State of Illinois!

  8. - winners and losers - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    On the CPS Block Grants (there are 2 of them):

    Chicago gets 54.4 percent of Special Education Summer School.

    CPS gets 48.4 percent of Special Education Private Tuition.

    In 1995 CPS had a disproportionate number of Illinois students in these line items.

    Not true now, but the percentages are frozen.

  9. - anon - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    As someone who was here in 1995, the GOP basically told Daley you aren’t getting anymore money from Spfld but you can spend the money you receive now from the state anyway you want (block grant)–and you can use your local money anyway you want (collapse pension and all levies)

  10. - Chris Widger - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    Rich, I’m not positive that it’s fair to use the language from the legal filing as evidence against Rauner. Page 19 shows that the filing was done by the AG’s office, which isn’t exactly something he controls. Not to comment on the merits on either side, but I think your italics are a bit cute on the point. Happy to hear counterarguments.

  11. - Highland IL - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:06 pm:

    The GOP legislators sharing the district-by-district breakdown numbers may want to reconsider the press releases they’ve been sending repeating these numbers. They may not be scored.

  12. - winners and losers - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:07 pm:

    There are two (2) completely separate Block Grants for CPS. The examples above are just 2 of the many items in each of the Block Grants.

  13. - Norseman - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:08 pm:

    Rich, maybe you can reuse the ignorance headline.

  14. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:09 pm:


    Rauner’s corner shouldn’t have sent him out for this round. The press ain’t exactly throwing haymakers, but the dude still can’t defend himself.

    For Rauner, if the last ten days had been a prize fight, the ref would have stopped it by now.

  15. - Lamont - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:12 pm:

    The simple solution here is to eliminate the block grant to CPS, distribute categoricals evenly along with the new funding formula…and, oh, the State should take over the funding (and current debt) of CPS pensions like it does for every other school district.

  16. - GA Watcher - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:19 pm:

    So is this what happens when you run government like a business?

  17. - Juice - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:24 pm:

    JohnnyPyleDriver, what the Republicans decided to do in 1995 was look at the percentage of each categorical line that was going to CPS and said they would give that same percentage to CPS in perpetuity as a block grant. This was to give CPS more flexibility because Daley was asking for more money.

    In the ensuing 20 years, the amount spent on other districts for special ed private tuition and special ed transportation has really shot up, while CPS expenses on those things haven’t. So as a result, there is a pretty significant gap, particularly in those two areas from what CPS spends and what they receive because they get a set percentage.

    So basically, the “unfairness” of the block grants is largely being driven by what is going on with spending by every other district in the state more than anything else.

    And as Rich mentioned, creating the block grant had absolutely nothing to do with pensions but had everything to do with avoiding giving CPS more money.

  18. - DuPage Bard - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    Interesting, actual real questions were brought up by the press. Then they followed up as well. Is this a new era?

  19. - Political Animal - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    I’m a Conservative Republican who likes IPI, but I was totally unaware of this history and it’s making me change my mind. I always got the impression that the $250 mil block grant was on top of categorical grants, in lieu of the pension pick up, not instead of the categorical grants.

    But this also has me questioning why we fund education in this way to begin with. Why does the state need to dictate to local school districts how much they can spend on which categories?

    Why not just tie funding to student headcount (with extra dollars for students in poverty or with special needs) and block grant all the funding, for school districts to spend as they see fit?

  20. - OkComputer - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    I wonder if all Rauner’s team did was simply divvied up the block grant among the remaining districts proportionally, rather than run it through the full school funding model.

    And then not account for Chicago getting any mandated categoricals that they would now have to get.


  21. - Chris - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    ==”In 1995 CPS had a disproportionate number of Illinois students in these line items.

    Not true now, but the percentages are frozen.”==

    Well… CPS still has a disproportionate number of students in each category, but a *smaller* disproportionate number.

    Still more CPS kids in each of those buckets than just the number expected by CPS enrollment.

    Isn’t the “right” answer to adjust the block Grant $$ to match the current enrollment numbers and then count that reduced number in the new formula? I say this as a CPS parent.

    Does anyone actually know what the true adjustment would be, or is CPS just worried (for obvious reasons) about *any* reduction, even if only ~5%??

  22. - winners and losers - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    Chris: CPS now has roughly the same percentage in those 2 line items as it does the percentage of all Illinois special ed students.

    Chicago has been doing terrible (and illegal) things to reduce the number of students in special ed.

  23. - Juice - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:43 pm:

    Political Animal, by and large, that is what SB 1 is attempting to do. It eliminates most of the funding for those categories and lumps those dollars in with general state aid to fund this new formula.

    Chris, I think if we were just talking about the block grant, then it’s worth having that discussion. But here is my fundamental issue with Rauner and the GOP’s argument. They demanded (it was in the Governor’s budget address) that any new funding formula must include a hold harmless. But now they don’t want that hold harmless to include CPS because Madigan or something.

  24. - don the legend - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:51 pm:

    The script for the ad is right here:

    REPORTER: Did ISBE score this version of your amendatory veto?

    RAUNER: Uh, I don’t know. We, we’ve done the calculations.

    REPORTER: Who is we?

    RAUNER: Our administration in conjunction with, uh, our legislators and in conjunction with, uh, school officials.

  25. - Political Animal - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    Does someone have a link to a spreadsheet that shows Total State Aid, Local School $’s, and student body population?

    ISBE website only has PDFs.

  26. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 12:57 pm:

    This is fascinating and really important history. Definitely the kind of thing we should be getting out there more. It always helps if we start with a common set of facts.

    Oh yea, and of course Rauner is shameless - literally he is incapable of feeling shame for his constant prevarication. It’s infuriating.

  27. - Demoralized - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 1:09 pm:

    This is becoming a keystone cops production

  28. - walker - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 1:13 pm:

    But school funding is so complicated.

  29. - the girl has no name - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 1:16 pm:

    @Political Animal

    Are you looking for info on the current GSA system? If so

    There is a plethora of information on that site.

  30. - Texas Red - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    Outside of the Capital Fax world no one will care. Secondly Rauner’s base dose not particularly care why or how and what justification is used to reduce state tax payer funding to CPS; they just want it reduced.

  31. - City Zen - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 1:24 pm:

    CPS enrollment peaked in the early 2000’s. Did a block grant increase coincide with that enrollment increase?

  32. - Former Hillrod - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 1:27 pm:

    This is another instance where the governor reminds me of the final scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones is told that “top” people will be working on the Ark. Top people.

  33. - JS Mill - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 1:28 pm:

    Tip of the cap to @Winners and Losers for some very good and accurate information. This is part of the real issue with CPS funding.

    Lots of real needs at CPS but they have squandered some very good resources along the way. They also received (RNUG knows the amount if mine isn’t correct) about $1 billion from the state for pensions when this all began. Long term it has been a great deal for CPS, if they were in the formula like everyone else the numbers would be very different.

  34. - Political Animal - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    Specifically I’m looking for a comparison of dollars to students. Would prefer original source data. The only thing I could find online was from IPI and they found the following:

    “CPS has received more than 25 percent of the state’s education funding formulas over the last decade, despite the district’s share of total state enrollment hovering around 19 percent.”

  35. - Team Warwick - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    Juice said it

  36. - Team Warwick - Friday, Jul 21, 17 @ 2:58 pm:

    Scored — is education street slang for:
    “Run it thru the funding formula computer based model to determine how districts come out in comparison to the old way, two columns (new way and old way ), by school district, grouped by each senators or reps district yboundaries, to determine analysis of “winners & Losers”. Thrn givr each if them a pribtout so they can discuss and decide if thats the result they want or do they tweak it agaun

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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