Rauner's "Must Pass" Turnaround Agenda Doesn't Include Education Reform

Nov 1, 2015

Credit WUIS/Illinois Issues

Gov. Bruce Rauner has so far focused his attention on business and union issues, and restructuring state government - like workers' compensation, tort reform and legislative term limits. But what about his education agenda?

Before he was governor, Rauner was a wealthy private equity investor known in some circles for his involvement in education; there's even a charter school named after him: Chicago's Rauner College Prep.

He's talked about the importance of scaling back mandates on districts, increasing school funding, support for school choice.

But none of those are included in the handful of requirements he says lawmakers must meet before he'll talk about revenue for the state.

"We're actually working on big, big reforms on education," he said recently. "We haven't announced 'em yet, because they're all being formulated. And it's in process. In the coming months, we're going to see some big announcements on things we're going to do to improve education." Rauner says he's a "passionate believer in supporting education."

"I want to increase funding for education, K-12, early childhood education, universities, community colleges," he said. "But I want to change the structure of how we do education. Make sure we increase vocational training and technical training."

While Rauner rejected most of legislators' spending plan -- leaving Illinois without one -- he signed the past that sends state money to elementary and high schools. They're even getting $244 million more than last year.

Public universities and community colleges have gone a quarter of the year without state funding.