House Speaker Michael Madigan knew he didn't have enough votes to override Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a bill to fund Illinois higher education, but he called a vote anyway.
And everyone in the General Assembly knows that Rauner will summarily veto a new bill to sharply curtail his power in negotiating a new contract with the largest state employee union, AFSCME Council 31. But Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton called it for a vote anyway.
With less than two weeks until the March 15 primary, this week's votes allowed most Democrats to affirm their pro-union stance and their opposition to Rauner, who has vetoed education and social service funding bills because -- without a state budget to create new revenue -- they only would add to the state's fast-growing budget deficit. The state is on pace to spend $6 billion more than it will take in during the current budget year, which ends June 30.
After Democrats in the House were unable to override Rauner's higher education veto on Wednesday, Madigan announced a new bill that he said represented a true compromise. But when it was debated on Thursday, Republicans said they had not been involved in any "compromise."
The House adjourned on Thursday and won't return until April 4 -- three weeks after the primary. Perhaps the dust will have settled enough by then for lawmakers to summon the courage to vote for the tax increases and cuts that all parties agree are necessary to create a real budget that will get Illinois colleges, social services and other components of Illinois government functioning properly again.
The political theater of the past week and what it portends for the future are our topics on this week's "Only in Illinois."