Speaker of the House Mike Madigan said for the first time Wednesday that he believes Democrats may have enough votes to override Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of the school funding bill at the center of the Illinois' second special session this year.
"Oh I think that there's a good possibility of an override in the House," Madigan said at a news conference on Wednesday, the first day of the special session.
Lawmakers returned to Springfield but there were no hearings and no votes taken as Democrats and Republicans continued to point fingers at one another, each blaming members of the other party for wanting to manufacture a crisis.
At issue is Senate Bill 1, a measure to establish a new statewide education funding formula.
Calling it a "bailout" for Chicago, Rauner has vowed to amendatory veto the bill to remove financial considerations for CPS’ block grant and pension payments – the only district statewide for which the state does not pick up employer contributions.
It’s currently being held on a procedural motion as Senate President John Cullerton seeks more time to negotiate with the governor, who reiterated Wednesday that there’s "nothing to discuss" until the bill is on his desk.
"I just want to have a meeting with him," Cullerton said at a news conference Wednesday. "I want to have a meeting with him so he can show me what his changes are."
But just two weeks after lawmakers voted to override Rauner's vetoes on the budget, the governor maintained that he will not meet with Cullerton until he sends the bill.
"We should not tolerate this for one second," Rauner said Wednesday. "There is no legitimate reason for that education funding bill not to have been sent to me already."
Time is running out for negotiations, as this latest Springfield showdown occurs just days before schools are slated to expect their first general state aid payment by August 10.
Chicago Public Schools said the district plans to open on time, though Emanuel once again pushed Rauner to sign the bill, refusing to call it a “bailout.”
"Superintendents of education across the state endorse that legislation,” Emanuel said. “It's time for the governor to do what's right."
There’s little room to mistake the level of animosity from both sides, as Cullerton said that if Rauner won’t meet, he won’t deliver the bill until Monday.
"What's his excuse for waiting until Monday?” Rauner asked. “This is unconscionable. It is wrong."
Cullerton maintained that amid a staff shake-up, his reason for holding onto the bill has revolved around Rauner’s reactions.
"It's because of the mental state of the governor,” Cullerton said. “It’s been the fact that, as I said, he's really had a bad month, and he’s done this in the past where he kind of, you know, loses his.. I'm just asking for a meeting.”