Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Let the (political) games resume

I’m feeling little more than a sense of sluggishness as I write this particular commentary, because it feels like the same old story being told over and over again.
DURKIN: GOP likely to back Rauner on edfund

I’m referring to our state’s General Assembly, which continues to haggle with Gov. Bruce Rauner over the way public education will be funded in Illinois, which itself is nothing more than a sequel to the two-year time period during which Illinois operated without an official budget in place.

THAT POLITICAL SQUABBLE eventually ended just over a month ago when just enough members of the Republican caucus broke with the governor to side with the idea of approving a budget. Which now has the governor doubling down his efforts for a political victory.

Which he seems determined to get with the education funding measure that he used his amendatory veto powers to alter in ways that Chicago Public Schools officials see as detrimental to their interests.

Rauner, however, continues to insist the Chicago schools were getting too much under the education funding bill that had been approved earlier this year by the Democratic-led General Assembly.

This fight was to resume Wednesday when the state Legislature was scheduled to reconvene, with the Illinois House having on its agenda the education funding measure. Although Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, made a last-minute decision Tuesday to postpone the vote indefinitely.
RAUNER: Desperate for political victory

THE STATE SENATE previously voted to override the Rauner amendatory veto – which would reinstate the measure as approved by the General Assembly and restore funding for the Chicago schools pension program that Rauner is determined to see as an unfair city perk.

But the Senate has a large-enough Democratic caucus that it could override the governor all by itself. It didn’t need the one Republican who switched sites.

Yet the Illinois House, while Democratic controlled, doesn’t have a caucus large enough to spit in the governor’s face, so to speak, on vetoes. Republicans are making it very clear they’re not about to switch sides on this issue in order to back the Dem-desired education funding bill.
MADIGAN: Eager to deprive GOP a victory

“It is unfair for Chicago to continue to receive excess advantages that are not afforded to any other school district in the state,” Illinois House Republican Leader James Durkin said earlier this week in a prepared statement.

EVEN THOUGH THERE are people who insist the changes being made for the Chicago pension funding are merely meant to balance out the fact that the Chicago Public Schools was funding its own program without outside help – which does differ from other school districts in Illinois.

Democrats already have made clear they have created another bill that is identical to their education funding bill so that the general concepts will remain alive even if Rauner winds up prevailing in his amendatory veto. Theoretically, the issue could come alive once again at a later date.

Which makes the results of Wednesday’s legislative activity fairly pointless in terms of actual public policy.

Would the measure have gone down to defeat, thereby giving Rauner a win – only to have that political victory undermined at some point in the future? Or would Wednesday have been some sort of procedural move meant to stall a legislative defeat and keep the measure alive for a little while longer?

TECHNICALLY, DEMOCRATS AND Republicans in the Illinois Legislature have spent the past few days (as recently as Tuesday) meeting privately to try to work out some sort of compromise plan with regards to the issue.
Ill. CAPITOL: Complicated manner for nothing to occur

But those meetings haven’t exactly been productive. Unless you want to literally believe the official legislative statements where leaders say the sessions were “productive” and refuse to elaborate.

Personally, I’m not expecting to learn a whole heck of a lot following Wednesday’s legislative activity. I expect we’ll continue to be in the same stalemate – with everybody taking actions that they believe will bolster their re-election chances come the 2018 election cycle.

It makes me wonder if our pols behaved like President Donald J. Trump did when he stared directly at the sun during the eclipse without special viewing glasses -- perhaps frying out a portion of their brain cells in the process.


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