Rauner, Dems map different routes on school funding mess

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Dubbing the Illinois Senate’s move to override his amendatory veto of a school funding measure “very disappointing,” Gov. Bruce Rauner on Monday requested that the four legislative leaders hash out the school funding mess while urging lawmakers to stand up to House Speaker Michael Madigan.

His call was a preemptive strike to House Democrats’ plans on Wednesday to try to override Rauner’s amendatory veto of the school funding bill on Governor’s Day at the Illinois State Fair.

Democrats issued their own strike against Rauner’s longstanding argument that the bill amounts to a “Chicago bailout” that helps the city at the expense of Downstate. A DuPage County Democrat released a two-year-old report suggesting that Chicago area taxpayers are only getting 80 cents back for every dollar they pay into the state’s general revenue fund, while some parts of central and southern Illinois are getting back twice what they pay in.

As for Rauner’s amendatory veto, Democrats have a couple of options in the mix, including voting on a measure that copies the language of Rauner’s veto. That was debated during a public hearing last week, with another planned for Wednesday.

Madigan can also choose to try to override the veto as the state Senate did on Sunday, although Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin has said he’ll find no Republican support.

That’s unlike what happened in July, when several Republicans broke ranks and voted for a budget and tax package.

The governor said he suspects Madigan will pressure Republicans in the House to override his veto, using tactics from last month’s budget stalemate, which Rauner called “ruthless, coldhearted, mean-spirited.”

The governor urged continued negotiations and later requested in a statement that the leaders meet to hash out the school funding mess. That’s an effort to keep negotiations going to get some of his preferred requests into the school funding debate.

Durkin said the call for a meeting shows “not only good faith” but also a commitment to resolve the issue.

“I think it shows how determined he is to allow us to negotiate on his behalf,” Durkin said. “To me, this is a significant request at a time when there clearly has been a level of distrust. This to me is a sign that the governor wants this issue resolved soon.”

Durkin said a meeting is expected on Wednesday.

While Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said he would look forward to a meeting with the leaders and the governor, Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick in an email said the governor intended for the meeting to be just among legislative leaders.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown criticized Rauner’s call for leaders meetings.

“The governor put out a press release telling people to do what they’re already doing. Those have been going on. The governor has been busy doing his national media thing so he probably ought to be briefed on what is actually happening in Illinois because that has happened and will continue to happen as time provides,” Brown said.

Meanwhile, as Rauner and Republicans fling about the words “Chicago bailout,” State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, released an analysis by the General Assembly’s Legislative Research Unit that shows state revenue collections and disbursements by county, using 2013 data for a report issued in 2015.

It found northern Illinois, including Cook County residents, got 80 cents back on the dollar or less from the state in terms of revenue. Sen. Tom Cullerton said he requested the numbers to see what DuPage County was getting and was given the entire state report. He noted one of his goals was to see what residents are paying into and making sure “DuPage is actually getting the actual bang for their buck.”

“Obviously you can tell where the heavy population centers are that are paying more into the revenue and they’re getting less back,” Sen. Tom Cullerton said. “So when we talk fair and equitable, everybody likes to vilify northern Illinois but the fact is northern Illinois seems to be floating the bill.”


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