The Illinois House voted down a contentious school funding reform deal Monday, once again leaving districts in limbo, as the state cannot make any payments to schools while negotiations continue.

Lawmakers voted 46-61 against the agreement, which was hammered out through a series of closed-door meetings of the four top legislative leaders, including one Monday morning to finalize details. 

The bill would have moved Illinois to an “evidence-based model” of education funding, which would take into account each district’s individual needs, as well as its local revenue sources, when appropriating state aid – prioritizing districts that are furthest from being fully-funded.

Without an evidence-based model in place, no state funding can be disbursed to K-12 schools across Illinois at all, due to a provision in the budget passed in July that makes aid contingent on an overhaul of the funding formula.

The failed deal, first announced Thursday, received criticism from several stakeholders, as well as representatives on both sides of the aisle. One of the more controversial components of the bill was a proposal to provide state aid to students who attend private schools through a tuition tax credit program. 

Cardinal Blase Cupich has long advocated for the proposal, but the Chicago Teachers Union called it a “voucher scheme to help the wealthy.”

The CTU has been a major critic of the plan that would have provided up to $75 million for scholarship tax credits. Lawmakers said those credits would have gone to families of low- and middle-income private school students. 

Some progressive Democrats, as well as several other unions like the Illinois Education Association, positioned themselves against the bill, denouncing it as an effort to create a statewide voucher program. 

Chicago Democrats stayed an extra hour after a three-hour caucus meeting to meet privately with House Speaker Mike Madigan on that very issue, emerging divided in their opinions on the bill as a whole. 

On the other hand, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the bill would have given cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools what they wanted and more.

The measure would have allowed Chicago to raise its property taxes, and would have given the city state aid to help with teacher pensions – a component that critics of the original Senate Bill 1 called a “Chicago bailout.”

Among those critics is Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who told business leaders in southern Illinois Friday that lawmakers were “on the verge of what is largely good education funding reform,” but again blamed Madigan for inserting “a bunch of bad things in it,” like funding for CPS that the governor said “shouldn’t go to Chicago.”

“It’s not fair but it’s going to end up being a compromise,” Rauner said. “It’s not where we’d like it to be and what I’ll try to do is fix the problems with it in subsequent legislation.”

Lawmakers in the House left to meet with their respective parties in a caucus following the vote, with plans to reconvene in the evening for a possible override of Rauner’s amendatory veto to the original Senate Bill 1 as it passed the legislature. 

Published at 7:23 AM CDT on Aug 28, 2017 | Updated 9 minutes ago

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