SPRINGFIELD— In yet another sign that Illinois' budget impasse is far from over, the Illinois House rejected a plan Tuesday that would have given Chicago some breathing room to make a payment due to its teacher pension system.
Although GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner supported the plan to allow a 40-day delay for Chicago Public Schools to make a $634 million pension payment, the measure fell short by seven votes in the Democratic-controlled chamber.
Rauner spokesman Lance Trover issued a heated statement directed at House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat.
"Governor Rauner and Republican leaders supported this legislation, but the Speaker had Chicago Democrats vote against it," Trover said. "The only reason the Speaker's Chicago caucus would vote against the Mayor's bill is because Madigan wanted to kill it."
Madigan chuckled at the statement.
"There's another example of people operating in the extreme," he told reporters at a news conference.
Madigan, who has locked horns with Rauner over the rookie governor's insistence on including non-budget items in his negotiations over the spending plan, said the measure will be brought back for a vote next week.
And he virtually assured the measure's passage.
"I'm sure it can be done," Madigan said.
Tuesday's action in the Legislature marked another day in which little progress was made toward getting a budget in place for the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.
Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the next step is up to Rauner, who spent much of the day surveying tornado damage in the northern part of the state.
"We've done our part," Cullerton said. "We've passed our bills, passed the budget. The ball is in his court."
State Rep. Terri Bryant, a Murphysboro Republican, said she voted "no" on the pension payment delay when she saw that a handful of Chicago Democrats also were casting "no" votes.
"Once again, the city of Chicago wants everybody else to carry their water," Bryant said. "And at this point, the legislators from the city of Chicago need to be responsible for their own city."
Chicago's school system, the third largest in the nation, is scheduled to make its pension payment on June 30. The legislation delays payment to Aug. 10 in hopes a longer-term solution can be found by then.
Before the vote, Republican leaders suggested that the agreement might be a step forward in thawing the frosty relations between the governor and Democrats who have controlled the General Assembly for the past 12 years.
"I think its definitely a sign of progress," said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. "Hopefully, this is a gesture of goodwill on our part and the governor's part to keep those talks going."
Within an hour of Radogno's positive comment, the measure failed.
State Rep. Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, voted against the bill, and state Rep. Mike Smiddy, D-Hillsdale, voted in favor.