State lawmakers will be heading back to the Capitol after Senate Bill 1 has yet to make its way to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk.
On Friday, Governor Rauner gave the Illinois Senate an ultimatum: send Senate Bill 1 to Rauner’s desk by noon today, or the Governor will call another special session. Senate Bill 1, or SB1, is a bill with a provision that ties a substantial majority of funding for Illinois’ public schools to an evidence-based funding model.
Senator Sam McCann wishes lawmakers weren’t given an ultimatum, but rather worked things out on their own.
“I do know that typically when one issues an ultimatum, it’s not a good sign of where we are in the process, and it typically has the opposite effect. I wish the Governor would not have issued the ultimatum and I really wish that both sides, the Republicans and the Democrats, could come back to (Springfield) in a special session but not part of an ultimatum, and work out a compromise to this bill,” says McCann.
McCann thinks there’s a possibility both sides could compromise, however, the power rests in the hands of small group at the top.
“I believe both sides, the rank and file members of the parties, Democrats and Republicans alike, are saying ‘yeah, we can compromise, we’re willing to compromise.’ But because we have two or three people at the top, because Illinois government is run by the Governor, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House. Those three people have all the power to determine what we vote on, what’s in the bills and what happens to the bills. That’s a problem because it’s not true representative government when three human beings out of nearly 13 million completely control the lawmaking and policy-making process,” McCann says.
Local State Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer also shares his thoughts on Senate Bill 1, and explains some of the details within the legislation.
“It was a decent bill when it came over from the Senate originally. Speaker Madigan added a bunch of more sweeteners for the city of Chicago. (The Chicago Public School System) skipped basically eleven years of pension payments, and they want the state to make up for that. They are not as high in poverty as a lot of districts throughout the state, they feel like they should be bumped up to a Tier 1 poverty level, which actually just hands them an extra $70 million. At some point, we as downstaters and the rest of the state outside of Chicago have to say ‘your crumbs aren’t good enough.’ Every district in the state receives a little bit of extra money, but we shouldn’t just take the crumbs because that’s all they’re willing to give us,” says Davidsmeyer.
A significant amount of school districts throughout Illinois would be unable to keep their doors open for very long or open on time, if the state fails to provide them with enough funding.
With Governor Rauner’s noon deadline now passed, he has called a special session to start on Wednesday.