Brady calls on Democrats to release 'hostage' school funding bill
Illinois students and parents should be preparing for school, not worrying whether those schools will open, Senate Minority Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) said at a Republican press conference on Thursday.
Brady spoke after legislators met for less than 20 minutes on Day 2 of the second special session this summer.
“These are days that I remember when my mom would take me shopping for my new school uniform or a new backpack or lunch pail," Brady said. "But instead, children around the state are being held hostage by the lack of progress and the lack of an education funding bill here in Illinois. And it is time to stop.”
Lawmakers are at a standstill over Senate Bill 1, the state's education funding bill that passed at the end of May and would institute an evidence-based funding model. Democrats added a last-minute provision to allocate more resources to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and its pension system. Republicans have called it a CPS bailout, and Rauner has vowed an amendatory veto to strip the bill of the additions.
In response, Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Democrats have withheld SB1, with Cullerton saying he is allowing for a cooling-off period and doesn’t trust the mental soundness of Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Brady and other Republicans have called the delay a deceitful legislative tactic aimed at fabricating a crisis.
“They’re using a parliamentary gimmick to hold the bill for nearly 60 days when the Constitution orders the General Assembly to send the governor legislation within 30 days,” Brady said. “This just isn’t right. We’ve got a lot of important things to do. We’d like our schools to be open and moving forward. It’s time to get the job done. Send the bill to the governor so he can fix it for the students and children of Illinois.”
Rauner, frustrated with what he has called political gamesmanship, chided Democrats for their lack of cooperation.
“If there was real interest in compromise on the other side, that bill would have been on my desk two months ago,” Rauner said. “There is no interest in compromise on the other side of the aisle. There is no interest in being reasonable on the other side of the aisle. If there were, when that bill passed, it would have been sent to my office. That’s why this bill is being withheld: to create crisis. What is just so outrageous is to use our children as political leverage, [to] hurt them to drive a political agenda. That is wrong. That is so unfair. Our children deserve better.”
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