News Local/State

Stalemate Continues In Springfield With Schools Veto, Union Lawsuit


In a sign the stalemate in Springfield is as strong as ever, Governor Bruce Rauner on Thursday vetoed a bill that had once been held up as proof he and Democratic leaders were capable of working together. The action leaves politicians divided and could leave the financially-ailing Chicago Public Schools short some $215 million.

Republicans got on board with sending CPS extra money. But Rauner said he'd only sign it into law if legislators passed another, even bigger bill by the New Year.  One to reduce the state's pension costs.

It was widely seen as a deal, but Thursday morning, Senate President John Cullerton said, "We haven’t talked about putting the two things together."

Republicans took it as Cullerton backing away from their agreement. Right away, Rauner vetoed the CPS legislation.

Democrats say Rauner was "lashing out" to Chicago kids' detriment.

Within hours, the Senate overrode Rauner's veto. But for CPS to get the money, the House must do the same, and that's less likely.

Cullerton says he'll still work with Rauner on pensions, but says the whole episode "unfortunately set back negotiations" he'd thought were advancing.

State Workers Union Sues Governor

The union that’s representing 30 thousand state workers is suing Governor Bruce Rauner.

It filed a lawsuit late Wednesday in Saint Clair County circuit court.

AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall says Rauner is starting to implement a new state contract before the law allows.

"Those demands include four years with no pay increase, a 100-percent hike in what workers now pay for health insurance," he says. "The combination of those two is a big,  effective pay cut."

A ruling by the state labor board recently gave Rauner the right to unilaterally implement his terms.

But Lindall says the governor must wait until the board takes further, official action before he can do that.

The lawsuit asks that Rauner’s decision be halted until then.  Lindall says it's important because once changes are implemented they're hard to undo.

In a statement, Rauner's office says the lawsuit is without merit.  He cites other changes -- like bonuses for workers with good attendance, and more generous bereavement leave -- as common sense.

AFSCME is expected to later file another lawsuit asking to toss out the labor board's entire ruling.