Education funding is a complicated topic anyway, but it’s especially difficult to understand in Illinois given the heated rhetoric from both Democrats and Republicans.

The situation is actually pretty simple, however: Pretty much everybody agrees on the problem and the solution, and additional money has already been budgeted to start the process.

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.

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.

Democrats have been privately grumbling for a while now that Governor Bruce Rauner isn’t truly interested in good-faith negotiations on a balanced budget with economic reforms to end the two-and-a-half-year Statehouse stalemate.

But Senate President John Cullerton spent days and days negotiating the details of a four-year property-tax freeze with Rauner, only to have his spokesperson tell me last week that he hadn’t acceded to Rauner’s demand for a four-year freeze. So Rauner isn’t the only one to blame.

The thin-skinned Statehouse partisanship of the past two-plus years last week infected the annual fundraising gala of the Illinois Conference of Women Legislators (COWL).

COWL is a bipartisan organization that raises money every year to “assist mature women who wish to continue their undergraduate education,” according to its Web site. “The goal of the scholarship is to focus on deserving, qualified women whose educations were interrupted due to family concerns and economic problems,” the group says. Women who have shown “leadership promise through community service” are given preference.

Anyway, it’s a good organization and it’s one of two events that I never miss each year – the other one being the House-versus-Senate softball game. Both events allow legislators to do things together without partisan or leadership barriers. They help build relationships and trust. Plus, they’re both a lot of fun. And after two and a half years of watching politicians fight each other to a draw on a state budget and economic reforms, we all need the occasional good time.

In normal times, a 40-minute late-April meeting to talk about the budget between a governor and the House speaker would be so routine that it would likely go unnoticed by pretty much everyone under the Statehouse dome. These ain’t normal times.

A funded, full-year state budget has not passed during a spring legislative session since 2013, almost exactly four years ago. We’ve had partial-year or “stopgap” budgets ever since.

And House Speaker Michael Madigan hasn’t formally met with the governor since December 6, about five months ago. Governor Bruce Rauner announced at the time there would be no more similar meetings until the Democrats were prepared to offer up a balanced budget with specific reforms – something that the governor hasn’t done since, either.

You might have heard about a recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll that found that Governor Bruce Rauner’s job disapproval ratings have almost doubled in the past two years, from 31 percent in March 2015 to 58 percent this month. According to the poll, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s current disapproval rating is 61 percent, about the same as his 63-percent disapproval rating last October. Rauner’s disapproval rating last October was 55 percent.

During this long governmental impasse, Madigan has championed the cause of unions and working people against the governor’s attempts to take rights and benefits away from them. But the Democrat is actually underwater with union members. According to the Simon poll, 55 percent of respondents who said they belong to a union disapprove of Madigan’s job performance, including 38 percent who strongly disapprove. Just 34 percent of union members approve of his job performance, while only 12 percent strongly approve. All this pain and they still don’t like him.

But union members dislike the governor far more. The poll found that 72 percent of union members disapprove of Rauner’s job performance, and half of union members strongly disapprove. Only 24 percent approve. On Rauner, anyway, the union message has gotten out.

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