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Illinois lawmakers struggling to fund schools for the fall

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SPRINGFIELD, IL. - Illinois lawmakers returned to the Capitol Wednesday to battle another crisis.

In the second special session of this summer, lawmakers are trying to ensure schools will be able to open on time. When lawmakers reached a budget agreement to end a two-year impasse a few weeks ago, it made school funding for the year contingent upon passing an education funding bill known as Senate Bill 1.

The bill re-writes the formula for distributing money to schools, using an "evidence-based" method.

SB 1 has collected dust since both the house and senate passed it at the end of May.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has publicly voiced support for most of the plan, except for a provision that provides more $200 million for Chicago Public School's pensions.

"Why are they waiting until Monday to send it," Rauner said. "The answer is to create a crisis, hurt our children, hurt our teachers, to create panic and to force people to make a decision to take money out of the classroom and send it to pensions in Chicago."

Rauner may use a power called an amendatory veto, where he can make changes like taking the Chicago money out of the bill. The bill would then go back to the legislature, where each chamber can override Rauner and approve the original bill or vote to accept his changes.

Rauner would like the whole process done by Monday, but Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said he will not send the bill to Rauner until Monday.

"If we have to go through this process of veto overrides, it takes a few weeks and we have two chambers," Cullerton said. "It would make much more sense to have a meeting and compromise."

The state's first payment to school districts is due Aug. 10. Many district leaders around the state are worried about dipping into reserves or having to close their doors in absence of state funding.