SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois house has rejected the Senate's $16 billion bill for public schools.
The bill failed just before midnight on Tuesday in a 24-92 vote.
SPRINGFIELD -- Late Tuesday night, with just two hours left in the General Assembly's spring session, state senators rejected a budget measure from House Democrats that Gov. Rauner criticized as being $7.5 billion in the red.
31 senators voted against the House Democrats' budget, including Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville). 17 senators voted in favor of it, including Sen. Gary Forby (D-Benton), according to the Illinois Senate's roll call sheet. 10 senators voted "present."
It was clear much earlier in the day there would be no "grand compromise" between Democrats and Republicans on a balanced budget that would include a mix of program cuts and tax increases.
"We're like a banana republic," Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-IL) said at an early evening news conference. "We can't manage our money."
Asked by a reporter if he bore any responsibility, Rauner responded, "Absolutely. You know what, I will always veto dramatically out-of-balance budgets."
But political observers say Rauner does deserve at least part of the blame for the state enduring a nearly year-old budget crisis.
"What we're seeing now is really just the after effects, the miserable after effects, of Gov. Rauner's spending his first year really wasting time trying to convince people in the state that we should roll back a lot of union power," said longtime Illinois journalist Madeleine Doubek, who now runs the political website Reboot Illinois.
In an editorial published over the weekend, the site called on rank-and-file Democrats --- meaning those outside the leadership --- to defy House Speaker Michael Madigan and strike a deal with Gov. Rauner.
That didn't happen.
On Tuesday afternoon, Doubek didn't seem too surprised. She pointed to the very real power Speaker Madigan has over House Democrats, which makes it risky to get on his bad side.
"He provides a lot of the funding for their campaign," she said. "He provides a lot of the workers who go door-to-door. He gets a lot of that money and manpower from labor unions in the state of Illinois as well as from trial lawyers."
Doubek said the only thing that might make middle class Illinoisans revolt against the status quo is if K-12 classrooms don't open this fall.
"That's the unfortunate thing," she said. "It's almost as if we need for schools not to open for people in the middle class --- on a massive level --- to really feel the pain and ridiculousness of this standstill."
Also late Tuesday night, the Illinois Senate made a dramatic move to avoid that scenario. On a vote of 37-19, with two members voting "present," the Senate passed a $5.5 billion school funding measure that, like last year, would send money to classrooms even if there's no overall state budget.
Again, Sen. Forby voted in favor of the measure while Sen. Luechtefeld voted against it, according to the Senate's roll call sheet. During the debate, Luechtefeld said it added $900 million in new funding for schools, which he called a "fantasy" in light of the state's fiscal situation.
The measure must still pass the Illinois House before going to Gov. Rauner.
At his news conference Tuesday evening, Rauner called on Democrats to pass a separate K-12 school funding bill. But that doesn't necessarily mean Rauner would sign this version.
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