GOP leaders say school funding deal being finalized
Illinois Republicans leaders announced what appeared to be a completed compromise on public school funding with their Democratic counterparts on Monday, hours before a vote was expected.
“I believe that we have reached a final conclusion to our drafting, and it’s going to be worked on with just finishing touches, and then we are going to get to the floor at some point this afternoon,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said.
Durkin and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) had met earlier in the day with Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) to finalize details.
“I mean, this is what our caucuses and the people of Illinois have been looking for a long time: that you’re going to get the four leaders and the governor to agree on a major issue,” Durkin said. “I know Leader Brady and myself are prepared to do that, and I think it’s been a very good experience. We just have to get the job done first.”
The measure, Senate Bill 1, was held in the House for two months after passage, then received an amendatory veto from Gov. Bruce Rauner on Aug. 1. The Senate overrode his veto on Aug. 13, but the House has yet to act on the bill.
Despite the contentious debate and some push back from Republican members, Durkin said negotiations on the bill have delivered fruitful solutions and perhaps even a precedent for the state with regards to major issues.
“Our caucuses are pleased that we are at a point where we’re sitting and we’re negotiating,” he said. “To me the most important aspect of this bill is that both the priorities of the Democrat caucus and the priorities of the Republican caucus and the governor, I believe, has been satisfied. I believe that this the definition of compromise.”
The bill is a historic win-win, Brady said.
“We’re going to share the information with our caucuses today and tomorrow, and I believe that they will embrace it in a majority and fund the schools in a higher level than ever before,” Brady said.
Brady did not go into details about the agreement, including whether the additional funding originally given to Chicago Public Schools remained in the bill. The funding was part of Rauner's reasons for vetoing the measure.
“What we’ve done is we’ve given Chicago, I think, what they need to make this work,” he said. “We care about Chicago students just as much as we care about any student in the state of Illinois. I think this is a fair way of spreading resources so that every student in the state of Illinois benefits.”
After the House vote on Monday, the Senate will convene on the matter on Tuesday.