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Madigan to try school funding veto override next week

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan speaks at a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017 in Springfield. (AP Photo/ John O'Connor)

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Wednesday — a day intended to celebrate Gov. Bruce Rauner at the Illinois State Fair — vowed to keep fighting for a Democratic sponsored school funding bill the governor vetoed, with a vote to override planned for next week.

That call came soon after the Illinois House conducted a test vote of Rauner’s amendatory veto — a bill that carried the exact language of his changes that was intended to be a public showing of the lack of support for the governor’s plan.

The Illinois Senate voted on Sunday to override the veto. But an override in the House will require Republican votes.

The speaker also outlined some of the behind-the-scenes negotiations regarding the school funding mess, accusing Rauner of walking away from a “compromise proposal” the speaker offered last week. Madigan said the governor then “commissioned” television commercials, robo-calls and digital ads.

Rauner’s campaign on Wednesday announced the ads and robo-calls, which his campaign labeled as a way to highlight the “benefits” of Rauner’s school reform plan.

Madigan said the rejection of his compromise and the ads show the governor doesn’t want a resolution.

“I have a serious doubt that Gov. Rauner wants any kind of an agreement on this issue,” Madigan said.

Nevertheless, the House will take up an override on Wednesday, Aug. 23, the speaker said, with another chance to override before Aug. 29. There’s also a House bill the Senate already cleared as a backup plan — with the identical language to the Democratic sponsored Senate bill — which the House would then advance the measure.

“We’re not going to walk away from Senate Bill 1. Senate Bill 1 is the product of close to 10 to 15 years of work by education advocates,” Madigan said. “It’s well thought out. It does the job. It’s supported by every education advocacy group in the state. It’s fair across the state. Every district wins. No district loses. We’re not walking away from that bill. I’m prepared to come to an agreement. I question whether he’s prepared to come to an agreement with us.

The speaker urged “reasonable Republicans” to join Democrats in overriding the veto “as they did on the budget making.”

Earlier, Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin denied that Republicans and the governor don’t want to compromise.

“The Republicans truly, the governor, and myself and the Republican leader in the Senate are prepared to bring this to closure, the education funding reform issue that has been daunting for many, many years,” Durkin said at a meeting of the Republican county chairmen, while pinning the direction of the future on the speaker.

“He controls the agenda. And we’re prepared to work with him,” Durkin said. “But he does not have the votes to be able to override Senate bill 1 in the House of Representatives today. He won’t have it tomorrow or next week.”

There were no yes votes on the test vote — which Madigan later tried to paint as a show of no support for the changes. In reality, several House Republicans called it a “joke” and a “game” while urging for continued talks.

“This is yet more, again, Democrat games instead of real legislation, real work,” state Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, said while urging Republicans to vote present or no.

But House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, D-Chicago, called the vote a way to “send a very important message” to the governor.