Citing progress in the ongoing school funding negotiations, House Speaker Michael Madigan Tuesday night canceled Wednesday’s scheduled session of the Illinois House in hopes legislative leaders can wrap up negotiations on a new state school aid formula later this week.
The House was supposed to meet to consider overriding Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1, a funding reform bill Rauner said was too generous to Chicago schools. He made dozens of changes to the bill that not only affect Chicago but also many downstate school districts.
The Senate has already voted to override Rauner’s changes. In the House, the override would have needed Republican votes, and so far, no Republican has indicated a willingness to vote against the governor on school funding.
A number of lawmakers believe the solution will be through a negotiated compromise. To that end, the four legislative leaders met all afternoon Tuesday in Madigan’s Capitol office.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington emerged from the meeting early Tuesday evening saying progress was made and that further negotiations would be held soon. They did not say specifically when that would happen, nor would they discuss details of the talks.
Durkin said it would be up to Madigan to decide whether to go ahead with an override vote in the House Wednesday. Brady, however, said it would be a gesture of good faith on Madigan’s part to delay the vote.
Later Tuesday evening, Madigan did just that.
“In light of the progress made today by the four leaders, I am canceling session previously scheduled for Wednesday, August 23,” Madigan said in a statement. “During our talks today, Leader Durkin noted he was unavailable for any meetings tomorrow in order to wrap up negotiations. In light of that, we have decided to meet on Thursday in Chicago. I am hopeful we can finish our negotiations shortly to ensure schools around the state can receive the money needed to operate schools throughout this school year.
“If we don’t reach compromise later this week, the House will move to override the governor’s veto of SB 1 in session next week.”
Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, one of the principal authors of SB 1, said he was pleased negotiations “appear to be promising.”
“(Negotiations) should continue,” he said in a statement. “But it bears repeating that the uncertainty over school funding needs to end — next week at the latest.”
Until lawmakers adopt a new school aid formula, billions of dollars in state aid for K-12 education in the new budget won’t be distributed until a new formula is in place.