Governor Bruce Rauner and top Republican leaders met the media on Thursday to issue a challenge to state Democrats: “turn in your homework.”
That was the phrase that Rauner hammered at repeatedly during his remarks, which were made as the Illinois House and Senate engage in a special session to work on a school funding bill that will allow education facilities throughout the state to open this fall.
“Speaker Madigan and President Cullerton: turn in your homework,” Rauner said. “You passed a bill to fund our schools two months ago, but you’re hiding it. You’re sitting on it, while our schools, teachers, and most importantly our students are put at risk.”
The Republican press conference comes a day after House Speaker Mike Madigan indicated that he feels the Democratic-controlled legislature has enough votes to overturn any potential veto of SB-1, a funding bill that includes provisions to help with the pension crisis in Chicago.
Governor Rauner has said he will use an amendatory veto on the bill if it reaches his desk in its current form, striking out the provisions related to Chicago schools.
That bill still has not been sent to his desk, and Republican lawmakers criticized Speaker Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton for their tactics during the financing impasse.
“We’re on Day 57 since the Democrats passed SB-1. Every day that goes by places their school opening in jeopardy,” Republican Leader Jim Durkin said. “It’s not fair. It’s not right. Send us the bill and we’ll work with you. We should be doing work down here, and it starts with the president lifting his ban and sending his bill to the governor.”
President Cullerton has said publicly that he wants to have a meeting with the governor to discuss the bill, which is being held as lawmakers seek more time to compromise on the specifics of the legislation.
“I just want to have a meeting with him,” Cullerton said Wednesday. “I want to have a meeting with him so he can show me what his changes are.”
Despite Cullerton’s entreaties, Governor Rauner insists that there is no real appetite for compromise on the part of Democratic leadership.
“If there was real interest in compromise, that bill would have been on my desk two months ago,” he said. “There is not interest in being reasonable on the other side of the aisle. What is so outrageous is to use our children as political leverage. That is wrong. Our children deserve better.”