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Rauner vows to veto education funding bill, demands Democrats send it to him

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday said he plans to rewrite a Democrat-passed education funding formula bill, setting up a likely showdown with Democrats who control the General Assembly as school districts across the state remain caught in the middle.

The governor visited schools in downstate Mount Zion and Rockford, accusing Democrats of looking out for “Chicago special interests” and playing “political games” with schoolchildren. He rattled off a list of rural and suburban communities that would gain millions of dollars in school aid by removing what he calls a “bailout” for the Chicago teacher pension system.

The governor called on Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton to send him the legislation so that he can use his veto pen to make the changes.

Rauner’s declarations came amid a continued staff shake-up that has seen several key staff members be fired or resign. They’ve been replaced in many cases by activists from a prominent conservative think tank, a move viewed as a sharp right turn ahead of next year’s re-election bid.

On Monday, the fallout continued as more than a half-dozen staffers in Rauner’s office quit. Adding to the day’s drama, the governor’s office fired the governor’s travel assistant after offensive statements were found on the new hire’s Twitter page.

The staff shake-up came after Rauner lost a battle with lawmakers, who passed a budget and income tax increase over his vetoes. The fate of the funding formula rewrite bill has become the latest flashpoint between Rauner and lawmakers after the legislature inserted a clause in the budget that says general state aid for schools can’t be spent unless it goes through a new “evidence-based” formula.

The formula bill passed by Democrats in late May creates such an “evidence-based” system for distributing state aid, but Rauner opposes the bill because it includes $215 million in pension assistance…

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