Republican and Democrats name education funding reform negotiators

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WAND)- With just one day left of special session, and the weekend impending, Governor Rauner announced Friday morning he asked key Republican lawmakers to reach out to Democrats to negotiate an alternative to Senate Bill 1. 

The statement comes after two days of no progress on education funding reform despite the two sides attacking each other for inaction. 

"I have asked key Republican lawmakers to reach out to their Democrat colleagues to negotiate in good faith so an alternative can be presented by July 31. If a reasonable compromise that is in the best interest of our children isn't reached, I will move forward with my amendatory  veto on Monday as planned." his statement read. 

The news came as a surprise to Democrats, who have been asking  for meetings with the Governor on this issue for weeks. Representative Will Davis, D-Homewood, the chief sponsor on Senate Bill 1 in the House, was hopeful the call for negotiations would mean they would finally know what was in Governor Rauner's planned amendatory veto. 

"I still think that the overall challenge is that we don't know what we want to negotiate or what he wants to negotiate, so now that fact that he has indicated that he has a Republican team that's willing to negotiate what I hope is that they now know what the issues are, so we can start a dialogue." he said. 

Representative Lou Lang, D-Skokie, Deputy Majority Leader in the House, and a harsh critic of Governor Rauner was not as congenial when asked about the governor's announcement. 

"This is a governor who has not been interested in governing, he's not been interested in doing his job and when he decides to do his job the state will be better off for it, and he will be a better governor for it. But until then, the state is not better off for it, and he is not a very good governor." he said. 

Representative Peter Breen, R-Lombard, the newly appointed House floor leader, defended Governor Rauner's issue with SB 1, and his calling of special session. 

"The lines are pretty clearly drawn, and the issue is, do you take money out of the classroom to put into Chicago pensions? That is not something that most people in the state agree on. I think even folks in Chicago would say that's not a good use of dollars meant for classroom instruction." he said. 

Speaker Madigan did appoint members to work with Republicans on education funding reform, while saying he still believes that Governor Rauner should sign SB 1 as is.

"First and foremost, it is the sincere belief of House Democrats that Governor Rauner should sign the education funding reform bill currently on his desk. Should he continue to create chaos and attempt to pit one student against another by vetoing reform, we expect to move forward with an override. In the spirit of ongoing cooperation, Representatives Will Davis and Barbara Flynn Currie will continue to work with legislative Republicans, as they have been doing for some time now."  his statement read. 

President John Cullerton also announced two members from his caucus would would be working on the negotiations, appointing Senator Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, and Assistant Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford, D-Chicago. 

"This is the kind of meeting we've been trying to arrange for weeks. Hopefully we can learn what the governor has in mind with his threatened veto and see if there is a path forward , together." President Cullerton said. 

The Republicans assigned to negotiate are Senator Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, Senator Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorn Woods, Representative Avery Bourne, R-Raymond and Representative Bob Pritchard, R-Hinkley.  The Republicans released a statement late Friday afternoon that urged for quick negotiations. 

"We have cleared our calendars in order to facilitate these discussions today and over the weekend. We are hopeful our Democrat colleagues realize the urgency as well. With sincere bipartisan discussions, a solution can be negotiated and presented for review before the scheduled transmittal to the Governor of Senate Bill 1 on Monday." a statement read. 

No word when the meeting between the two sides will take place. 

Governor Rauner has set Monday, July 31st, as the deadline for education funding reform to be resolved.

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