Brady says it's 'time to solve crisis' of public education funding
Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) commended Gov. Bruce Rauner for calling legislators back to the Capitol to hammer out a school funding bill and said lawmakers should be ready to work.
While this summer's first special session ended in the passage of a budget, lawmakers did not pass an education funding measure, threatening the timely opening of schools next month. Rauner sent out the call on Monday that he wants legislators back in action starting on Wednesday and continuing through the end of July.
““The governor’s absolutely right to demand Senate Democrats to send him SB1 so he can act and ensure schools stay open for the children and the parents that we represent,” Brady said. “This is embarrassing. This is the time of year when parents should be buying backpacks and supplies for their students instead of worrying whether or not the schools are going to be open for their children. Teachers are worried. Administrators are worried. It’s been long enough.”
SB1 would introduce an evidence-based funding model for education, which both parties support, but it has not been sent to Rauner despite House and Senate passage. Republican lawmakers are at odds with Democrats because of a last-minute change to the bill that inserted a provision that would allegedly provide Chicago Public Schools with unfair amounts of money to its schools and pensions.
Republicans have called the change a Chicago bailout, and Rauner has criticized Democrats for playing political games with the state’s children as pawns.
“All of us in public service should actually perform public service,” Rauner said. “Put the best interests of our children ahead of all else. Our children should come ahead of political games and political brinkmanship. There is a good historic new school funding bill that is ready to be implemented. It was hijacked at the last minute by the majority in Springfield, and a poison pill was inserted to force payments to a pension system that is broken, unsustainable, and it needs reform.”
Rauner argued that while he still believes in pension reform, it should not supplant the needs of the students.
His comments are part of a rising chorus of criticism from Democrats in Springfield. The Illinois GOP has attacked Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) for acknowledging that Democrats are “intentionally holding SB1 from reaching Governor Rauner’s desk” when he told the Chicago Tribune that Democrats “slowed down the process in the Senate in order to let everyone blow off some steam, politically speaking.”
Brady concluded that his caucus is ready to work on the bill as soon as the Democrats are willing.
“This is a crisis that needs to be solved before the end of the month," he said. "Our caucus – the Senate Republican caucus - is ready and able to solve that crisis."
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