Durkin demands Democrats get back to work on school funding bill
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) is getting a failing grade in the eyes of House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs).
“We’re on day 57 right now since the Democrats passed SB1 in the month of May,” Durkin said. “Every day that goes by places students, parents, teachers, and everyone who works at schools … places their school day opening in jeopardy. That is unfair. It’s not right.”
Durkin joined Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) on Thursday to call on Cullerton to stop playing games and start doing his work on Senate Bill 1, the state's public school funding measure.
“Our schools are at risk of not getting the money they need,” Rauner said. “And our students, especially our low-income students -- our most vulnerable students whose parents are struggling to make ends meet after a brutal tax hike -- they don’t know whether they are going to be able to go to school when the [doors] open. President Cullerton, turn in your homework.”
Lawmakers are at odds because of certain provisions in SB1 that would provide Chicago Public Schools with additional funding towards its pension. Rauner wants to veto those provisions from the bill but called the current special session so that both parties could work on a compromise.
Durkin, having previously called the impasse a legislative tactic designed to fabricate a crisis, has expounded on the need for urgency and cooperation, asserting that Republicans are ready to work with their colleagues across the aisle.
Democrats have kept mostly mum, although has acknowledged that he is withholding the bill until Monday, the last day of the session, so that cooler heads may prevail. Durkin called it gamesmanship.
“It is a political decision that is being made in the Senate and also in the House,” Durkin said. “It’s important that people realize that the Republicans … are prepared to compromise and work with Democrats, and we will be reasonable. Send us the bill, and we will talk to you and work with you. We have quorums in both chambers. We should be doing work down here, and it starts by the [Senate] president lifting his ban and sending SB1 to the governor. I can’t be more clear about that. There is no good reason [for SB1 to be stalled]. Do your job.”