News Local/State

Little Visible Progress On First Day Of Special Budget Session

Illinois Senate chamber.

View of the Illinois Senate chamber at the Illinois Statehouse in Springfield. CC/Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons

The Illinois General Assembly was back in Springfield Wednesday. It was the first of 10 special sessions on the budget and other priorities of Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

To put it briefly, not much happened. The special session lasted about seven minutes. Republicans and Democrats then separately went behind closed doors to strategize.

Republicans also reiterated their requirement that passing the governor’s political and economic agenda is a prerequisite to passing a balanced budget.

“It has to be a compromise”, said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin. “We’ve always said, for the last two years, ‘reforms before revenue.’”

But Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan says the focus should be on Illinois' finances, and continues to object to Rauner’s agenda being a precondition.

“We ought to working on balancing the budget”, said the Speaker. “That means there ought to be cuts and new revenue. I’ve said that for two and a half years.”

Madigan says a team led by his Majority Conference Chairperson, Greg Harris, is working on its own budget plan, one that he says is “not too far apart” from the Republican plan.

But until that budget appears, Republicans claim that Madigan is the outlier, standing in the way of a budget agreement.

State Senator Chapin Rose says that in his chamber, both parties have made good-faith efforts to try to end the budget impasse. But the Assistant Republican Leader from Mahoomet says he doesn’t see the same effort from the Speaker.

“The Senate Democrats have compromised” said Rose. “Last week, the governor filed a compromise bill that adopted many of their ideas. And basically it came down to this singular question, which is, where are the House Democrats? Will they get to the table and compromise? Or will they continue to be the only group in Springfield that is not working to get us out of this mess?”

It seems the one thing both sides agree on is that neither has changed negotiating positions.