Demmer pleads for end to coercion on education funding bill
Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) chided Democratic lawmakers for playing schoolyard bully with the state's public education bill, twisting arms to get what they want regardless of what's best for all.
“Let’s not use legislative tactics to hold up the bill until the last minute,” Demmer said on Wednesday, the first day of this summer second special legislative session. “Let’s not, as colleagues, force each other into a position where maybe enough people are so desperate for schools to open that they will change their vote on something they opposed the first time through because you’ve offered it as the only option as a 'take it or leave it' approach.That’s not going to work here. Let’s not work together like that. Let’s find a different way.”
The legislation, SB1, introduces an evidence-based funding model and passed the House with 60 "yes" votes at the end of May – well below the 71 votes needed for an override if Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoes it, which he has threatened because of provisions overly favorable to Chicago Public Schools and its pension debt.
Fearing the veto, Democrats have refused to send SB1 to Rauner, which in turn forced him to declare the special session.
Demmer said Democrats have been working to manipulate the legislative process instead of fixing the funding bill.
“So what has your strategy been in trying to get from 60 to 71,” Demmer said. “Not selling the merits of the bill. Not arguing about the pros and cons about the policy. Instead, the strategy has been to use a legislative procedure to force pressure, to create a crisis, to bring us to the brink of schools not receiving their funds, because maybe in that situation, there will be 11 more people who are desperate enough to get schools to open to vote for a bill that they opposed on its merit the first time through this chamber.”
Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) has acknowledged withholding SB1 but said he is waiting until Monday to send it on because he questions Rauner's mental fitness.
Demmer challenged that assertion, arguing that Democrats have refused to work with Republicans on changes to the bill or made any themselves.
“Let’s let the process of this building happen,” Demmer said. “It’s established by our Constitution: An amendatory veto is a power that is granted to the governor by the Constitution. It is one that we should respond in kind. We will have the chance then to vote up or down on the amendatory veto. Let’s let that process take action. Let’s let that process play out.”