Gov. Rauner blames Speaker Madigan for blocking education funding

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner blamed House Speaker Michael Madigan on Monday for blocking education funding to four state universities

"We've got a dictatorship of one individual who cares about politics over people," Gov. Rauner said while standing outside his Chicago office.

Gov. Rauner, a Republican, said Madigan, a Democrat, is single-handedly blocking the bill to send emergency financial aid to Chicago State University, Western Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University and Northeastern Illinois University.

"We have a bi-partisan bill to fund our universities with $160 million right now," Gov. Rauner said.

Rauner said the presidents of CSU, Eastern and Northeastern told him that they were told by Speaker Madigan not to appear with the governor before the March 15 primary election or risk future funding.

"Speaker Madigan is managing this process for political games, political gain in the primary election, not to help our students," Gov. Rauner said.

A CSU spokesperson denied that their president was told to not support any particular funding bill.

The rescue bill is sponsored by state Rep. Ken Dunkin, a Chicago Democrat who has rebelled against Madigan's leadership.

A Northeastern spokesman wrote, "the university has received no instructions on any topic from Speaker Michael Madigan."

Steve Brown, a Madigan spokesman, said "Nothing like that happened. It's the governor flailing about. The only guy doing damage to higher education is Bruce Rauner."

The governor also revealed details of a private conversation he said he had with Democratic Illinois Senate President John Cullerton about Madigan.

"And you know what President Cullerton said to me in private?" Gov. Rauner said. "He said, 'Bruce, I've lived in Mike's shadow for 37 years, I'm not going to step out now.' Can you believe that? Can you believe that? And you wonder why Illinois is in such deep yogurt, ladies and gentlemen."

In a statement, President Cullerton's office did not deny the governor's recollection of the conversation.

Cullerton statement read "I'm not going to dignify that with a comment. Could we please get back to governing?"
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.