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Lawmakers and Rauner Accuse Each Other of Spreading Fake News

(WRSP)

Friday was a day full of twists and turns at the Illinois’ Capitol, but it wasn't because of budget negotiations or other legislation – it was because of what lawmakers are now calling “fake news”.

This situation, which led Senate Democrats to ask the state inspector general to open an investigation, developed throughout the day Friday.

Here’s a timeline of how things unfolded.

On Thursday, the Kankakee Times published an article claiming an education funding reform bill that passed the Illinois State Senate Wednesday would cause some of the school districts in Kankakee County to lose state funding. That article cites an Illinois State Board of Education analysis.

Friday morning, Senate Democrats held a press conference about that article.

"False and erroneous drafts of school funding numbers somehow made their way out of the Rauner administration office into the hands of a Bruce Rauner campaign group and are being used for political purposes,” Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said during Friday morning’s press conference.

In response, Gov. Rauner's office released a statement saying: “The Senate Democrats today jumped the shark. One cannot leak something that is on a public website. Their false and outrageous accusations have been disproven, and they should apologize for manufacturing blatantly false accusations.”

What their referring to is a report, which was published by the Illinois State Board of Education in May of 2016 analyzing a failed 2016 education funding reform bill.

Those are the numbers cited in the Kankakee Times article.

Kankakee Times publisher Dan Proft tweeted this, Friday afternoon.

Friday afternoon, Manar released a statement urging superintendents to be aware misleading figures are being reported about the school funding bill that passed the senate this week.

“This appears to be a textbook example of fake news,” Manar said. “I am disturbed as to how and why this information was put out there and framed as official information from the Rauner administration, clearly with the intent of confusing and misleading people about Senate Bill 1. Senate Democrats have asked the executive inspector general to look into that, but right now I want to make sure school superintendents are aware that outdated information is fraudulently being passed off as up-to-date news about Senate Bill 1. Furthermore, I hope Gov. Rauner and Education Secretary Beth Purvis will follow our lead and alert school officials about this misleading information to set the record straight. Anything less makes them complicit in a concerted effort to jeopardize Illinois’ shot at achieving meaningful school funding reform.”

After their press conference, six Senate Democrats sent a letter to the inspector general asking her to “research and investigate the situation”.

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