Durkin: Democrats go from swagger to silence on school funding bill
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) attacked Democrats on Wednesday for in effect forcing Gov. Bruce Rauner to call a second special legislative session this summer, this time to deal with education funding.
“Schools throughout Illinois either have or are preparing to open their doors to more than 2 million schoolchildren, yet the governor does not even have the opportunity to take action on the legislation that your side says will give students a world-class education and renew our shared commitments in our students,” Durkin said on the House floor.
Legislators are expected to continue working on the funding bill, SB1, until the end of the month, if necessary. The session was prompted by an alleged refusal by Democrats to send SB1 to Rauner, despite both houses having passed the measure. While both parties support the evidence approach initiated by SB1, Rauner has vowed to use an amendatory veto to strip the bill of provisions catering to Chicago Public Schools and paying down its pension debt.
Rauner has accused Senate President John Cullerton of playing games with children’s future. Cullerton has openly acknowledged withholding SB1 to allow lawmakers a cooling off period and because he questions Rauner's mental fitness.
“This is fundamentally wrong,” Rauner said in a press conference on Wednesday. “This is vicious manipulation of the democratic process for political gain and for the political machine. This is damaging our children’s lives. It’s outrageous. We should not tolerate this for one second. There is no legitimate reason for that education funding not to have been sent to me already.”
Durkin said that after the grandstanding from Democrats during the regular session on getting SB1 passed, he found it odd how silent they have become.
“It’s real simple,” Durkin said. “Your party needs to send the bill to the governor. After all the bluster that I have heard in May, I think you must implore upon your leadership, both in this chamber and the other chamber, to release the bill. I speak collectively for this caucus when I say that schools must open on time and their funding must be improved, and it must be more equitable. But we have very little time to do this, so stop stalling.”