Headed Back To Springfield, Some Lawmakers Optimistic Progress Is Possible This Time
At least some of the lawmakers headed back to Springfield Wednesday are optimistic progress could be made towards a state budget after almost two years without a spending plan.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner called a special session for lawmakers to work on a budget and Republicans in the Senate have proposed a $37 billion dollar plan.
That plan, Democratic Sen. Scott Bennett of Champaign says, at gives everyone involved a starting point, and an idea of what Rauner wants in a budget.
“It may not be that we can meet all those conditions, but we can get a better sense of what’s acceptable to him,” Bennett said.
And Bloomington GOP Senator Bill Brady says Republicans don't view the session and their budget proposal as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.
"As long as we believe we're giving property taxpayers parity, as long as we believe we are creating jobs, as long as we believe we are balancing the budget, then we're open to anything that meets those broad strokes," Brady said.
Both he and Bennett say there is bipartisan cooperation over the impasse, but only in the state Senate.
State Rep. Brad Halbrook, a Republican from Shelbyville, agrees with Bennett and Brady that Illinois needs a full state budget. Problems and the unpaid backlog of bills that have grown since 2015 are hurting people in his district, he said.
“I’ve got constituents, if you will, that are vendors to the state of Illinois, whether it’s some business service, medical providers, that are on the edge,” Halbrook said. “They need to get this thing caught up so they can get back to a stable business climate.”
But Halbrook insists that the budget should include controls on spending and some of Rauner’s economic proposals that he says will help expand the state’s economy. Those include worker’s compensation reform.
Problems that will begin worsening if the state still has no budget on July 1 might force members of the House, who offered no budget proposal in the spring session, to act, Bennett said. Downgrades that will reduce the state's credit junk status, drastically increasing boroowing costs, have been threatened, for one.
Ultimately, though, Bennett says progress will require that Rauner and the other key player in the long impasse, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, compromise.
“Does the governor, is he willing to kind of anger some of his base by talking about (tax) revenue? Does the speaker, is he willing to give the governor what might be perceived as a win by closing this very black period?”