Durkin says House mocked education needs with sham vote
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) slammed Democratic House leadership for a meaningless exercise on Wednesday while schools throughout the state continue to wait for funding.
Instead of voting on the long-awaited education funding bill, the House gathered to vote on an amendment to Senate Bill 1947, an education bill addressing chronic absenteeism. The amendment incorporated many of the changes Gov. Bruce Rauner made to Senate Bill 1, the funding measure.
“This is just theater,” Durkin said. “It doesn’t help the process. What I think we need to do is get through this as much as we can. Stop the sophomore behavior we see year in and year out, particularly when we do have an agreement of the four legislative leaders to meet this Friday to bring this education issue to closure.”
Rauner has asked Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) and Durkin to come together on Friday to reach a settlement but has not indicated whether he would be part of the discussion.
SB1 has been a contentious bill marked by delays and political discord. The bill passed the General Assembly in May but wasn't sent to Rauner until the end of July, after he called a special session on it. Rauner immediately issued an amendatory veto to remove certain provisions that allegedly favor Chicago Public Schools and help fund its broken pension.
The Senate overrode Rauner’s veto on Aug 13 and sent the bill to the House.
Durkin said a compromise is close, with talks on Friday hopefully resolving the issue, and called the vote on Wednesday nothing more than a show
“It’s meaningless,” he said. “So we’ll go through this exercise as we do often, but folks, understand that we are committed to bringing this to resolution for anybody who questions whether or not the governor is sincere about reaching a settlement … that is why he has asked the four leaders – the first time in two and a half years -- to resolve one of the most daunting issue that we have been challenged with, have been fighting with, for the past 30 years. So again, I‘m not quite sure what the point of today’s vote is.”
The amendment failed on a vote of 0-60, with 33 members voting "present" and 25 not voting.
The House has until Aug. 29 to override Rauner’s veto of SB1, pass SB1 as changed, or let it die. The original version of the bill passed the House on a vote of 60-52 in May, but the chamber would need 71 votes for an override.