GOP accuses House Democrats of forcing sham school funding vote
The Democratic House Majority is wasting time on charades because it lacks the courage to vote on the state's school funding bill, Republican House members charged on Wednesday.
Instead of voting on Senate Bill 1, which was sent to the House after the Senate voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's amendatory vote of it, the chamber voted on an amendment to Senate Bill 1947, an education bill addressing chronic absenteeism.
The amendment, presented to the floor by Rep William Davis (D-Homewood), incorporated many of the changes Gov. Bruce Rauner made to SB1. Ostensibly, the chamber was meant to hold a discussion on how lawmakers felt about Rauner’s changes, but many Republicans accused the Democrats of only presenting theater.
“Today’s vote is nothing more than show,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said. ‘It’s a sham vote, and the fact is it’s never going to go anywhere. It’s meaningless. So we’ll go through this exercise as we do often, but folks, understand that we are committed to bringing this to resolution, [and] for anybody who questions whether or not the governor is sincere about reaching a settlement … that is why he has asked the four [legislative] leaders – the first time in two and a half years – to resolve one of the most daunting issues that we have been challenged with and have been fighting with for the past 30 years.”
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.
Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard), echoing Durkin’s sentiment, called the vote on SB1947 “high jinks meet hijacked.”
“Today, this activity is a joke," Breen said. "We’re not doing any work. Already we have heard that the leaders are meeting on Friday. That’s the process that needs to work. That’s the process we need to be supporting. And let’s remember that there are big issues here that I think most people in Illinois would agree on. We should not be bailing out Chicago. We should not be bailing out their pensions. We can deal with those issues in a responsible way without backing the truck up.”
Breen called for his Republican colleagues to vote "no "or "present" on the amendment to SB1947. The amendment failed on a vote of 0-60, with 33 members voting "present" and 25 not voting.
Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) expressed her frustration regarding the lack of an education funding bill vote.
"I find it really rude to pull people down here, pretend you're going to vote on the override and not do it," Ives said. "You don't have the guts to put the bill up and see where the votes fall."
Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) called the session a waste of time.
“We’re just building more pressure," he said. "It’s what this place does well: just build pressure. We all know the leaders are meeting on Friday. That’s really the opportunity for something to happen, to get something done for our schoolchildren, the teachers, parents, the administrators and everyone involved.”
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 will need 71 votes for an override.