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Mendoza makes categorical payment to schools, calls for override of SB1 AV

Thursday, Aug 10, 2017

* Comptroller’s office…

On the day Gov. Rauner’s void in leadership caused the state to miss General State Aid payments to K-12 schools for the first time in its history, Comptroller Susana Mendoza directed the payment of $429 million in Mandated Categorical grants to help provide needed cash flow to schools.

Our office has been preparing for this contingency. Failure to sign General State Aid funding legislation allowing payment to school districts statewide meant monies reserved this week for that purpose, combined with additional cash management strategies, could be utilized to pay the grants already owed to those districts. Categorical payments cover transportation, special education and other costs.

Comptroller Mendoza strongly urges the legislature to override Governor Rauner’s veto of Senate Bill 1 so that Illinois schools can finally be equitably funded. The Categorical payments are no substitute for the General State Aid that parents, school administrators and, most importantly, the students, deserve to keep schools open through the entire school year. They will provide some relief, but this does not solve the current K-12 funding crisis the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1 has created.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

27 Comments
  1. - Sigh - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    A void? Is that like the vacant space between Mendoza’s ears?

    I miss Dan Hynes.


  2. - Flynn's mom - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 10:42 am:

    @Sigh…why you mad? Don’t you want schools to be funded?


  3. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    Doing her job, unlike Rauner and his ultra right wing shrills.


  4. - muon - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:01 am:

    Speaking of Hynes, I thought that there were delayed payments of general school funds in the year before the 2011 tax hike. If so, this is hardly the first time in the state’s history.


  5. - DuPage - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:04 am:

    Mendoza would certainly do a better job as governor then Rauner.


  6. - Norseman - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:05 am:

    Sounds like we have a Rauner troll or a jealous BTIA(tm) staffer angry over Mendoza’s winning play.


  7. - City Zen - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:09 am:

    ==Don’t you want schools to be funded?==

    With an extra $5 billion floating around the capitol this year from the tax hike, why wouldn’t they be?


  8. - Sonny - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    Maybe cuz the state is $15 billion in debt or maybe cuz there is no approved school funding bill. Those are two reasons. There are more if you need them.


  9. - Responsa - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:23 am:

    Without question Comptroller Mendoza is ambitious and has a future in politics. However, she/her staff is starting to look *too* blatantly political and sound *too* shrill and partisan for a person elected to statewide office and who is now supposed to be serving all the citizens of the state not just Democrats. Do legislators of either party really appreciate and need to be instructed and “strongly urged” by Susanna–another elected official–on how to do their jobs? It’s hard to imagine JBT ever doing something like this.


  10. - anon2 - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    JBT wasn’t shy about expressing her opinions, including opinions that didn’t toe the party line. That’s one of the things she was admired for.


  11. - PragmaticR - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    I would prefer that the Comptroller separate what should be a nonpartisan cash flow decision to use the available funds to make previously mandated payments for education from the partisan discussion about the future of education funding. Paying bills in an orderly manner is an essential part of governing and it should not be affected by political party or philosophy.


  12. - SAP - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    ==With an extra $5 billion floating around the capitol this year from the tax hike, why wouldn’t they be?== Because there is no appropriation for General State Aid.


  13. - SAP - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    Pretty amazing how influential the Comptroller’s Office has become in the last couple years.


  14. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    Paying bills in an orderly manner is an essential part of governing and it should not be affected by political party or philosophy. —Is that directed to Mendoza or Rauner?


  15. - Montrose - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    To the commentors that think Mendoza is being too political - Rauner and BTIA™ have been working hard to paint her as failing at her job. I think this release is a needed rebuttal to their attempts to deflect responsibility.


  16. - Disgusted Downstate - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 12:31 pm:

    To be clear, what she is doing is sending schools the payments they were supposed to receive last March under the FY17 budget. Fun fact: schools do not receive any interest on late payments from the state like private providers do.

    Also, while categorical payments have certainly been late in previous years, I can think of only one time we didn’t get our first GSA payment by 8/10. In 2007, both August payments were sent to districts on 8/23. If memory serves, this was the year when the budget was passed late, and the BIMP (with a P) was passed even later.


  17. - PragmaticR - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    ==Is that directed to Mendoza or Rauner?==

    Both.

    The Comptroller is correct that the absence of an appropriation for General State Aid allows those funds to be used to lower the payment backlog to education districts. However, the strength of her position is undermined when it is attached to a partisan discussion of future education funding. Acceptance of AV, override of AV, or a compromise are all possibilities that should be unrelated to her official actions or announcements.

    The Governor’s failure to rapidly issue $6 billion in bonds authorized in July will cost the state more than $500 million per year in penalty interest. The bond issuance decision by the Governor’s office should not depend on partisan talking points in any way. The private sector is harmed when the state does not pay bills in a timely manner and the interest penalties damage the government’s financial stability.


  18. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 12:56 pm:

    Zen-

    That %5 billion was already spent, so it’s not really new money.


  19. - Losing My Edge - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 1:05 pm:

    “However, the strength of her position is undermined when it is attached to a partisan discussion of future education funding. Acceptance of AV, override of AV, or a compromise are all possibilities that should be unrelated to her official actions or announcements.”

    A position undermined in reference to what? The reality of schools opening on time? Rauner’s tenure has been hallmarked by political statements bled in through official statements. I don’t see why one would expect one standard from one politician, and a very different one from another.

    The decision to provide relief to schools on time, at least in the presence of this administration, becomes a political one. If anything, it’s Rauner’s own political posturing within the official actions of his job description that have even made Mendoza such a relevant public figure in the first place.


  20. - Barrington - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 1:23 pm:

    Susan Mendoza is doing a great job. Paying schools is the right thing to do. I shudder every time I think about Leslie Munger and what she would do.


  21. - PragmaticR - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 1:50 pm:

    ==The decision to provide relief to schools on time, at least in the presence of this administration, becomes a political one.==

    No, the decision to pay bills should never be based on the potentially subjective assignment of blame in an impasse. The impasse could be the Governor’s fault, it could be legislature’s fault, or it could be an indeterminant combination of both. It is good public policy to pay the bills when the funds exist. If it becomes necessary to prioritize which bills to pay, the Comptroller should attempt to ensure the orderly function of the state. It is essential to maintain the integrity of this decision-making process, especially in the presence of partisan behavior by others.


  22. - Pot calling kettle - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 1:52 pm:

    ==If it becomes necessary to prioritize which bills to pay, the Comptroller should attempt to ensure the orderly function of the state.==

    And that, is exactly what the Comptroller is and has been doing. What people seem to object to is the Comptroller explaining what she is doing and why and also explaining the consequences of the actions of others.


  23. - Losing My Edge - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 2:03 pm:

    I think you’re defining “political” differently than I am here. I was taking the more traditional definition of who gets what when. But I agree with the premise of your statement. It should not become that, but that’s a different statement than saying it has become what you are suggesting.


  24. - PragmaticR - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    == people seem to object to is the Comptroller explaining what she is doing and why and also explaining the consequences of the actions of others. ==

    Yes, exactly. I object to Comptroller’s explanation and her analysis of the actions of others because her assessment of responsibility should never be linked to choosing which bills to pay.

    Let me offer an example of a nonpartisan approach. Due to the school funding impasse, the money that would have been allocated to General State Aid payments on August 10 has now been allocated to reduce the backlog of education categorical payments. This decision is in the best interests of the state because it allows schools to remain open for as long as possible during the current impasse.

    This is the correct approach if it is the Governor’s fault. This is the correct approach if it is the legislature’s fault. Almost everyone would agree with her actions and this alternative explanation. It does not depend on the blame game or include for a call for another branch of government to take a specific political action.


  25. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 3:06 pm:

    –With an extra $5 billion floating around the capitol this year from the tax hike, why wouldn’t they be?–

    Did you sleep well, Rip?


  26. - JS Mill - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 5:38 pm:

    @PragmaticR- so you are asking Mendoza to take the high road? In normal times I would totally agree with you. Totally.

    Rauner and his BTIA have been pounding her with accusations of being a Madigan minion and an entire slew of other nastiness.

    Demure and tactful ain’t going anywhere with this bunch.

    Pound them into dust I say.

    When the states chief executive starts down the high road everyone else will join.


  27. - PragmaticR - Thursday, Aug 10, 17 @ 6:21 pm:

    I agree that the Governor’s behavior makes it difficult.


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