SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum salary for full-time public school teachers to $40,000 within five years.
Legislators approved the bill in May that would have increased the minimum full-time teacher pay, saying it would help attract and keep more teachers.
"It raises the issue that teachers are underpaid in the state of Illinois. I agree with that," Quincy Public Schools Superintendent Roy Webb said. "Our teachers are underpaid."
The bill would have increased minimum pay to $32,076 for the 2019-2020 school year, $34,576 for 2020-2021, $37,076 for 2021-2022 and $40,000 for 2022-2023.
But how to cover the increased cost mandated by the legislation worried Webb.
"We feel it needs to be a local decision on how much teachers are paid because we are the ones that have to pay those salaries," Webb said. "I know our board wants to work toward making teacher pay more competitive, but we're going to have to do that over time and with the funds available."
Rauner said he vetoed the bill Sunday because the minimum pay is an inefficient way to compensate teachers and is an unfunded mandate on school districts. The Republican governor said districts should consider steps such as merit pay and extra money for teachers in difficult-to-staff schools or subjects.
"Things like pay-for-performance, diversified pay for teachers in hard-to-staff schools or subjects, or pay incentives for teachers with prior work experience are all viable options to provide greater compensation for teachers," the governor wrote in his veto message.
Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar of Bunker Hill, who sponsored the bill, said he was disappointed with the decision.
"Refusing to guarantee professional educators a livable minimum wage is no way to lure more teachers to Illinois," Manar said.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker said Rauner is denying pay raises to educators while the state is facing a growing teacher shortage.
State lawmakers could try to override Rauner's veto when they go back to Springfield after the November election.
Illinois law lists the minimum salary for a teacher at $9,000, which took effect in July 1980.
Starting salaries in school districts statewide are considerably higher. The QPS starting salary this school year is $34,385.
The Associated Press ?contributed to this report.