Right off the bat, I should say that I think the so-called “stopgap budget” signed into law on June 30 was a good idea. People and organizations that rely on state government desperately needed a break from the all-out legislative war between the two ideologically entrenched parties.

Governor Bruce Rauner has been touring Illinois to talk about his new “messaging.” He’s quite excited about his “messaging” plans, telling one reporter that if he could do anything differently about his tenure so far, it would be to improve the way he gets his message out to voters.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan rose to give his customary year-end speech after the chamber had concluded its legislative business last week and pointed his finger right at Governor Bruce Rauner.

Illinoisans are furious about the way their government has been running (or, more accurately, not running). They’re looking for solutions, and some are grasping at anything within reach.

Few people thought that Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration could keep state operations running for a year without an actual state budget.

The Democrats got a bit of good news along with a load of bad news in a recent Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll. The news is particularly problematic for anyone who can be credibly connected to House Speaker Michael Madigan, whom voters overwhelming blame for the ongoing state-budget stalemate.

Near the top of any list of Illinois government’s many problems is that House Speaker Michael Madigan has made a decades-long game out of messing with the minds and agendas of our governors.

After what happened last week, it’s more clear than ever that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has no fear of what Governor Bruce Rauner could do to his members this fall. And Madigan has even less fear of what his members could do to him.

It has looked to me for a very long time that House Speaker Michael Madigan has been waiting for an existential state crisis to force Governor Bruce Rauner to back away from his anti-union, pro-business Turnaround Agenda so they can pass a “clean” state budget.

We saw some examples last week of why school-funding reform is so difficult to accomplish in Illinois.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin appeared with Governor Bruce Rauner at Lyons Township High School, which is in Durkin’s district. Durkin pointed out to reporters that the school would lose $1.9 million in state funding under the controversial school-funding-reform bill of Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill).

Leader Durkin also claimed that every school district in his House district would lose funding with Manar’s proposal. Chicago, he noted, would gain hundreds of millions of dollars. Durkin declared that he and his members could not and would not support a plan that shoveled big-time bucks at Chicago while cutting their own districts.

But that’s really the whole point of Manar’s plan. He wants to shift state funding from wealthier suburban districts such as those Durkin represents (14.2 percent of Lyons Township High School students are from low-income households) to districts that have high numbers of impoverished students (86 percent of Chicago Public Schools students are from low-income households). Manar wants a “hold harmless” provision to make sure no district loses money right away, but that’ll cost quite a bit of cash – which the state doesn’t currently have.

Durkin represents half of Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno’s district, so convincing both of those chamber leaders to sign off on a plan that takes state money away from their own schools is just as difficult as convincing the two Chicago Democrats who head up the House and Senate to agree to Rauner’s K-12 funding proposal that would reduce Chicago’s annual appropriation by $74 million.

Like I said, this ain’t easy.

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