Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Alliance Legislative Report (100-39)

FATE OF SB 1 STILL UNCERTAIN 

The Illinois House of Representatives convened in session today (Wednesday) but took no action on the amendatory veto of SB 1. Governor Bruce Rauner issued his amendatory veto earlier this month and the Senate voted to override the governor’s action Sunday (Aug. 13). When the House first scheduled Wednesday’s session, most observers assumed the intent was to attempt the veto override. But it became evident earlier in the week that such action was not going to be on the agenda for the single day session.

Instead, the House held a committee hearing on House Amendment #4 to SB 1947 which contains language that is identical to the governor’s amendatory veto revisions. The amendment was sponsored by House Democrats, all of whom oppose the governor’s proposals. Republicans cried foul saying that this amendment was not a serious attempt at addressing the school funding impasse, but was political in nature.

Several school superintendents were on hand to testify before the appropriations committee. The often emotional hearing contained heated exchanges between witnesses and legislators. The passionate debate continued onto the House floor when SB 1947 was considered. The amendment was defeated with zero “yes” votes, 60 “no” votes, 33 “present” votes, and with 25 House members not voting.

Negotiations to reach compromise on an evidence-based school funding formula will continue, but instead of the bipartisan group of legislators who have been meeting, the legislative leaders will meet on Friday. The result could be a House override of the governor’s actions, thereby restoring SB 1 to the version that was originally approved by the House and Senate in May – then approving subsequent legislation (a “trailer bill”) that contains education provisions favored by Republicans. One component could be a statewide private school voucher program that the governor has recently pushed. House members must take action on the amendatory veto of SB 1 within 15 days of when it was officially read into the record in the House. It was read into the record on Monday, Aug. 14.

The Alliance is opposed to any voucher, scholarship, or tax credit designed to redirect state funds from public schools to non-public schools.

Both the Senate and the House are now out of session and will return at the call of the president and speaker. House Speaker Michael Madigan indicated that House members will return next Wednesday, Aug. 23rd.