(Adds House decision not to call an override vote)
CHICAGO Dec 1 Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner
vetoed on Thursday a bill to give the Chicago Public Schools
(CPS) a one-time $215 million state payment to help cover the
financially ailing district's escalating pension costs.
While the veto was quickly overridden in the Senate, the
House adjourned until Jan. 9 without attempting a vote. A
spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat,
said it was unlikely the 71-vote threshold required for an
override would be reached, leaving the veto in place.
Rauner, a Republican, said Democrats reneged on a June deal
that tied the bill's enactment to the legislature's passage of
comprehensive pension reform, which did not gain any traction in
the fall legislative session that ended on Thursday.
CPS, the nation's third-largest public school system,
included the money in its $5.46 billion fiscal 2017 operating
CPS is struggling with pension payments that will jump to
about $720 million this fiscal year from $676 million in fiscal
2016, as well as drained reserves and debt dependency.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who controls the school
district, condemned the governor's move.
"This action is both reckless and irresponsible, and make no
mistake, it's our children who will pay the price," Emanuel said
in a statement.
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton earlier on
Thursday told reporters there was no definitive contingency tied
to the bill's enactment. Ahead of the Senate's override vote, he
said he was prepared to continue negotiating on pensions.
Illinois is limping through its second straight year without
a complete budget. It also lacks a plan to curb a huge $130
billion unfunded pension liability in the wake of an Illinois
Supreme Court ruling that found the state constitution prohibits
pension benefit cuts for public sector workers.
"Despite my repeated request for daily negotiations and hope
to reach a comprehensive agreement by the end of next week, we
are no closer to ending the (budget) impasse or enacting pension
reform," Rauner said in his veto message.
A temporary budget approved in June expires at the end of
this month. There was no legislative action on the budget, but
leaders of the House and Senate vowed to keep meeting.
Early on Thursday, Rauner in a Facebook post said he could
accept another stopgap budget only if Democrats agree to term
limits and a permanent property tax freeze.
(Reporting by Karen Pierog; Additional reporting by Renita D.
Young; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Leslie Adler)