The education-funding-reform bill that passed the House and Senate in May and was finally sent to Governor Bruce Rauner on July 31 was the product of four years of research, endless listening tours, and lots of hard bargaining.

But when Rauner issued his amendatory veto of Senate Bill 1 last week, he introduced a bunch of new ideas that had never been on the table, including during endless discussions among members of his own education-funding-reform commission.

The battle plan to kill the Democrats’ education-funding-reform bill (Senate Bill 1) that was plotted before Governor Bruce Rauner’s infamous staff purge in early July – and which still appears to be mostly operative – actually anticipated low special-session turnout, because there likely wouldn’t be much of anything to vote on. Rauner’s folks figured that the Democrats would wait a while before lifting the parliamentary brick off the education-funding-reform bill – the better to foment a crisis atmosphere as the clock ticks down to schools reopening after summer break.

So legislators not showing up for session will likely only amplify the governor’s contention that the majority party isn’t interested in preventing a crisis and funding schools.

In the end, Mike Zolnierowicz had only one choice. Governor Bruce Rauner’s top political lieutenant and former chief of staff, the man everyone calls “Z” who was most responsible for winning the 2014 Republican primary, simply had to resign late in the afternoon on Friday, July 14.

The week began with the early-Monday firing of Richard Goldberg, Z’s close friend and hand-picked successor as Rauner’s chief of staff. Rumors had circulated for months that First Lady Diana Rauner had turned on Goldberg and wanted him out, and in the previous few weeks it was known among a select few that the governor had been calling around looking for a possible replacement, including calling a couple of people in Indiana who declined the offer.

But Z and others were caught totally off-guard when Goldberg was abruptly fired and not offered a position in the vast campaign apparatus that Z had constructed. Rauner had not only made a major decision without consulting Z, his supposedly number-one guy; he had also needlessly kicked Goldberg to the curb.

After Governor Bruce Rauner hired Illinois Policy Institute President Kristina Rasmussen as his new chief of staff, I reached out to one of the House Republicans who voted to override the governor’s budget and tax-hike vetoes. How was he feeling?

“You mean after the irate phone calls and e-mails and the letter that arrived at my house today telling me and my wife (by name) to move out?” he texted back. “I’m doing fine – seriously I am. I can just guess what the new chief of staff might have in store for me.”

Rasmussen’s anti-tax group essentially weaponized its Facebook page against lawmakers during the run-up to and aftermath of the overrides of Rauner’s vetoes.

After years of ugly gridlock and weeks of groups and political leaders whipping up an already-disgusted populace over a 1.2-percentage-point income-tax increase, lots of legislators were understandably on edge last week.

Representative Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) tweeted ahead of the votes to override Governor Bruce Rauner’s vetoes of a budget package that it was “hard not to think about the [recent Virginia] congressional shooting showing up to work today.”

And so people were naturally a bit rattled when a woman triggered a more-than-two-hour delay of those override votes as police and a hazardous-materials team frantically combed the Statehouse.

Christine Radogno was the first female leader of a state legislative caucus in Illinois when she took charge of the Senate Republicans in 2009. That alone puts her in the history books.

But she’s also a decent human being, something that often seems in short supply around the Statehouse.

When she held a press conference last week announcing her July 1 resignation, the fact that several Senate Democrats showed up and then took turns hugging her after it was over demonstrated the deep well of respect and admiration she had built in the building. She even got a hug from House Speaker Michael Madigan after she told her fellow legislative leaders she was resigning in two days. Madigan isn’t the hugging type, at least not at work.

Governor Bruce Rauner regularly attempts to “go over the heads” of the news media and talk directly to the public without any journalistic filters. Usually for people in his particular position, that’s just not possible. Governors aren’t presidents, after all. They can’t deliver Oval Office addresses that are carried live by television networks or give stump speeches that cable news networks regularly broadcast. They don’t have millions of Twitter followers or Facebook-video watchers.

That hasn’t stopped Rauner from trying. He has spent millions on television advertising even in non-election years attempting to frame his issues his own way – mainly to avoid taking any blame for his state grinding to a halt without a budget, and to shift all blame to House Speaker Michael Madigan and the Democrats.

Aside from those ads, most of his Facebook videos have fewer than 10,000 or so views, a tiny fraction of Illinois’ population. He only has about 20,000 Twitter followers, which is less than I have.

So last week’s Old State Capitol speech about the need for “unity” was a true rarity.

One of the hottest rumors making the rounds among Statehouse types last week was that the governor and/or the Illinois Republican Party will be sending “trackers” to Springfield for the upcoming special legislative session.

The rumor, which was everywhere, was that the trackers would follow Democrats around to try to get them to say silly things or record them doing stuff that might not look good to the folks back home.

Nasty rumors thrive in the pea-soup fog of fear and loathing that pervades the Statehouse these days. At one time or another, it seems like everybody has fought everybody and now nobody trusts anybody.

As we’ve all seen over the past several months, Governor Bruce Rauner is adamantly refusing to provide any help whatsoever to Chicago – which is struggling mightily under the weight of years of fiscal misfeasance – until his Turnaround Agenda demands are met. A long-sought education-funding-reform bill, a 911 emergency-call-center fee, and even a bill to allow the expedited sale of the Thompson Center have been hit with Rauner’s broad (and often false) brush of being a “Chicago bailout.”

Rauner will never again get another “opportunity” like this one. Democrats have historically protected Chicago, and the city needs more help now than ever before. Going after the city is, by far, Rauner’s “best” leverage to force the Democrats to cut a deal with him.

Democrats, particularly in the House, won’t budge, partly because their city-based and statewide union allies are demanding all-out war.

House Speaker Michael Madigan was his usual self during the final week of the General Assembly’s spring session, passing bills to make one point or another without actually accomplishing anything.

Bills are routinely moved in the House for the sole purpose of creating TV ads or direct-mail pieces or newspaper headlines. Madigan’s only real ideology is maintaining his majority, and he doesn’t consider that to be a bad thing. And maintaining that majority has been inextricably tied for two long years with stopping Governor Bruce Rauner at every turn, despite Madigan’s repeated claims that he’s cooperating and that Rauner should just accept a win and move on.

Whatever else you can say about Madigan, he’s not wrong about that last part.

Pages