The Illinois Senate has voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a $215 million funding bill for Chicago Public Schools that would aid the financially struggling district with teacher pensions, but the Illinois House adjourned Thursday evening without voting on the measure.
The Illinois Senate voted 36-16 to override the veto Thursday. The Illinois House adjourned Thursday after voting on a large energy bill. The body will reconvene in January of next year.
Rauner had earlier vetoed the bill, claiming Democratic leaders backed out of a deal to pass comprehensive pension reform by the end of the current General Assembly.
During a Thursday press conference, Senate President John Cullerton denied that there was ever an agreement and urged Rauner to sign the CPS funding bill.
“The governor just indicated that he wasn’t gonna sign [the CPS funding bill] because of his desire to have some kind of pension reform,” Cullerton told reporters. “It was very vague, there was never any agreement by us as to what that might be.”
The country's third-largest school district has a "junk" status from credit agencies and was counting on the money to pay the employer's contribution to teachers' pensions.
But shortly after Cullerton’s comments, Rauner vetoed the bill. His decision will stand unless the General Assembly is able to override the veto.
“President Cullerton suddenly denied that the leaders had agreed that this bill would depend upon first enacting comprehensive pension reform,” Rauner wrote in his veto message. “Breaking our agreement undermines our effort to end the budget impasse and enact reforms with bipartisan support.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the decision "reckless and irresponsible."
"Make no mistake, it’s our children who will pay the price," he said in a statement. "The governor is lashing out, imperiling the system-wide gains earned by Chicago students and teachers, and proving just the latest example of his willingness to put the burden of his failures on the backs of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, whether it’s schoolchildren, college students, seniors, or those living with disabilities. This is no way to run a state.”
This perhaps is the latest example of the political gamesmanship playing out in Springfield. Despite meeting throughout the veto session, Rauner and the state’s top leaders are still miles apart on a budget compromise.
“The election is over,” Rauner wrote. “Despite my repeated request for daily negotiations and hope to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of the week, we are no closer to ending the impasse or enacting pension reform.”
Throughout negotiations, House Speaker Michael Madigan has championed the budget framework that’s been used on seven budgets over the past two years. In response, Rauner and Republicans claim those budgets were out of balance and incomplete.
The governor released a Facebook video Thursday explaining that he would only consider another stopgap funding compromise if the General Assembly passes elements of his “turnaround agenda,” like term limits and a permanent property tax freeze.
“A year ago the speaker said he wants to raise our income tax back up to at least five percent, without reforms,” Rauner said in the video. "Now he wants to delay that plan and instead simply wants to pass another stopgap budget, ignoring reforms and plunging our state even further into debt.”
“This is unacceptable,” he added.
During a press conference following Thursday’s leaders meeting, Madigan scoffed at Rauner’s word choice.
“Don’t use the word stopgap budget,” Madigan told reporters Thursday. “The first time that stopgap budget was used was by governor rauner at the end of May when he requested the stopgap budget. The word stopgap was never used in the prior six budget-makings.”
Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno criticized Madigan Thursday for pushing to once again use the same framework that led to seven unbalanced budgets.
“The speaker continues to refer to the past seven budgets that were not balanced,” Radogno told reporters. “It’s all semantics, whether you call it an unbalanced budget, a stopgap budget. What we need and what we’re committed to continue to work on is a balanced budget that will contain reforms”
Leaders explained that they will continue to meet to discuss the budget, possibly through the weekend. The state’s current stopgap funding compromise is set to expire at the end of the year.