Are we headed for another standoff?
In one corner: Illinois' Democrat-led legislature that tucked a requirement for a new school funding formula into a groundbreaking state budget agreement last month, but created an emergency by sitting on the actual funding framework until Monday, just 10 days before payments to school districts are supposed to go out. That would mean that with no funding formula, no schools would get paid.
In the other corner: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who swiftly vetoed parts of the school funding bill once it finally was delivered to his desk, cutting money that would go to Chicago Public Schools, among other revisions. He's already shown a willingness to stick to his guns despite the hardship it could create, having earlier held to his insistence on government reforms as part of a budget agreement even after it triggered a two-year stalemate.
This bout is starting to sound all too familiar, only this time with the ever-escalating 2018 election drama upping the ante and the education of tens of thousands of Illinois schoolchildren at stake.
We're calling on the contenders to meet in the middle, and to drop any intention of delivering a knockout punch.
It is the time for House Speaker Mike Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and Rauner to build on their otherwise encouraging consensus that the way Illinois funds schools now isn't equitable.
Closed-door negotiations between Democratic and Republican legislators on school funding went on over the weekend but fell apart Monday, echoing a failed bipartisan attempt to solve the budget impasse back in the spring.
We're all frustrated by the inability of our state's leaders to step back from the brink and make headway on the state's many intractable problems.
On this issue, regional allegiances buffer against strict party adherence for some lawmakers, with downstate and suburban Democrats perhaps aligning a bit closer to Rauner's view on funding Chicago schools. To the extent that chips away at the political party monoliths, it could be a good sign.
Let's hope it creates a resolve for lawmakers, legislative leaders and the governor to reach a solution, and quickly.
While a boxing match needs a winner, it doesn't work that way in a functioning representative government, where compromise is the hallmark. Let's start making the system work in Illinois.