Rauner veto of union plan sticks, with suburban Democrats' help

Two suburban Democrats joined with Republicans today to block one of public employee unions' top priorities in their ongoing disputes with Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Suburban Democratic Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood voted against overriding Rauner's veto of a plan that could have prevented a strike by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and sent talks to binding arbitration.

Democratic state Rep. Jack Franks of Marengo voted “present,” leaving the override effort two votes short.

The proposal was rejected last year, too, and has become a dramatic sticking point in the long contract dispute between Rauner and the union that's happening at the same time Republicans and Democrats remain indefinitely deadlocked over how to put a state budget together.

Because of last year's action and a vote earlier this year, Wednesday's result was no surprise. And in the end, another failed Rauner override means the law doesn't change.

Still, last year's vote became a major political sticking point in the March primary election and might come up as both sides fight for seats in November, too.

The Illinois Republican Party sent a statement immediately after the vote trying to characterize the attempt to override Rauner as support for a tax increase, even though the plan failed.

“This bill would have given an unelected, unaccountable individual the authority to force the state to pay $3.6 billion more to cover double digit pay increases and five weeks vacation time for state workers,” party spokesman Steven Yaffe said in a statement, referring to the mediator called for in the bill.

“They sided with the governor against the people of Illinois and against the public service workers who protect kids, care for veterans and the disabled, respond to emergencies and keep us safe,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said.

State Rep. Ken Dunkin, a Chicago Democrat skipped the vote last year and was defeated in the March primary election after President Barack Obama cut a radio ad for his opponent and called him out during a Springfield speech.

Dunkin voted to override Rauner today. He then stood up on the House floor minutes later and said he meant to vote the other way and wasn't in the chamber when the roll call was taken.

Last year, a downstate Republican senator won a primary election challenge after he sided with Democrats. Some downstate Republican lawmakers have lots of AFSCME members in their districts, making the vote a tough one for them.

Franks isn't running for re-election so he can make a bid for to be the McHenry County Board chairman.

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