* Gov. Rauner’s education czar Beth Purvis was on Steve Cochrane’s radio show this morning…
PURVIS: In addition, the comptroller has not yet released the Q3 and Q4 what are called mandatory categorical payments. The schools are owed about $850 million from FY17. And so we also call on the comptroller to release at least those Q3 dollars so that schools have the cash on hand that they need to open their doors.
COCHRANE: Why did she not release that?
PURVIS: That is a question for the comptroller. We believe that, and I think there have been conversations with her from many people saying she can at least release those Q3 dollars. Again, Q3 and Q4 the districts across the state for their mandated categorical payments, which is serving students with disabilities, serving English language learners, transportation, transportation for special education students. So when you add what is now a 56 or 57-day delay [in sending SB 1 to the governor’s desk] and the fact that the comptroller will not release those Q3 and Q4 payments, it is creating a crisis in all 850, well, not all, in those districts that serve a high percentage of low income kids, including the Chicago Public Schools, and those districts, who, because of proration of General State Aid or the fact that the General Assembly did not fully fund the schools from 2009 to 2015, a lot of them have burned through their cash reserves, so this cash flow issue is a really big one.
COCHRANE: Nobody runs a business like this. How can you run, you know, politicians standing up and going ‘Oh, it’s the kids, it’s all about the kids.’ Kiss my butt. It’s all about the kids, you care about yourself. And let me tell you something, when it comes to the comptroller, gimme an e-mail address Andrea for the comptroller so that we can let every listener know that they should be e-mailing the comptroller today and demanding an answer for why those Q3-Q4 payments haven’t been released, and when will they be…
* From the comptroller’s office…
If creating havoc for the State of Illinois was a form of art, Governor Bruce Rauner would be Michelangelo. Just three weeks removed from a narrowly-avoided statewide financial meltdown, he’s back at work on his latest masterpiece, plunging the state into a school funding crisis, and blaming everyone but himself.
Governor Rauner more than tripled the state’s bill backlog from $5 billion to $15.4 billion since taking office. Despite Governor Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis, our office prioritized putting together $429 million last month to make a delayed categorical payment to schools around the state. As of today, the state’s checkbook balance is only $254 million. The Governor has not left enough money in the state’s accounts for another categorical payment to happen again soon. Falsely blaming our office for not making payments from a bank account he emptied is like a check-bouncer blaming the bank for bouncing his check.
Thanks to the General Assembly overriding his veto and passing a budget, our office has been able to use dedicated funds — funds that can’t be used for K-12 education — to provide much-needed relief to higher education and Medicaid. General State Aid (GSA) to K-12 schools cannot be paid through interfund borrowing or through the General Revenue Fund (GRF) without a school funding bill being passed to authorize those expenditures.
This misinformation campaign coordinated by the Rauner Administration is the height of hypocrisy. Unfortunately, we have seen this playbook before. The governor needs to stop the political spin, do his job, and stop holding schools hostage. School funding legislation must be sent to the governor and he needs to sign it so I have the legal authority to release critical funds for schools.
In other words, you can’t pay big bills with a nearly empty checking account.
*** UPDATE *** Purvis tried it again at the Sun-Times today…
In an interview with the Sun-Times on Monday, Education Secretary Beth Purvis noted vouchers were submitted to the comptroller’s office on time by the Illinois State Board of Education and implored Mendoza to “prioritize” the payment the same way she prioritized post-secondary education payments.
Purvis said that payment would alleviate some pressure — without a school funding bill in place. The governor and Democratic leaders continue to bicker about that measure, with Rauner vowing to issue an amendatory veto to take out Chicago pension costs.
The comptroller’s office released about $429 million for “categoricals” a month ago. But another quarterly payment is delayed because there’s no revenue in the books yet to pay for it.
Mendoza on Thursday pinned the blame for the delayed payment — and the budget impasse — squarely on Rauner’s back.