Durkin argues that Democratic games won't keep schools from opening
The sudden Democratic silence on an education funding bill speaks volumes, House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said on Wednesday.
“I find it fascinating," Durkin said. "During the month of May, particularly the last two weeks, the statements coming out of the Senate and House Democrats were that ‘SB1 was revolutionary.' This was the 'civil rights of this generation,' and this was probably 'one of the greatest pieces of legislation to have passed out of these chambers.' What has happened since then? [SB1] has sat, and it has gathered dust in the parliamentary hold in the Senate. What happened to all those brave statements back in May? They are all silent.”
Lawmakers returned to Springfield on Wednesday for a special session to finalize the education funding bill so that it can be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Rauner admonished Democrats, asserting that there is no legitimate reason SB1 is not already on his desk.
“They are holding it," he said. "They are not sending it to my desk. And why are they waiting until Monday to send it? The answer: to create a crisis, hurt our children, hurt our teachers, to create panic and to force people to make a decision to take money out the classroom and send it a pension payment for Chicago. Force through intimidation. Our children deserve so much better than this. Our families deserve so much better than this.”
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has publicly acknowledged withholding SB1 so that lawmakers can blow off some steam.
Cullerton argued that Rauner could overstep if he tries to veto certain provisions in SB1 that would provide more funding to Chicago Public Schools and its pensions. He said he has not released SB1 because of “the mental state of the governor.”
Durkin, however, countered that the impasse is a matter of Democrats playing political games.
“There is absolutely no good reason to have this bill sit other than some type of political gain for the Democrats," he said. "Because that is what this is about. It’s about trying to make Republicans look bad. But it’s not going to happen. We are committed to open schools on time. We are committed to making sure that schools are funded properly, equitably and also more favorably with more money from the state of Illinois. Our caucus has made it very clear we want schools to open on time. We’re prepared to get the work done. We’re not going to let the Democrats keep the schools from opening on time.”