News Local/State

Senate Democrats Growing Impatient With Republicans On Budget Deal

Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno.

Senate President John Cullerton and Republican Leader Christine Radogno continue to negotiate a compromise meant to end Illinois' budget impasse. They first unveiled the plan in January. Brian Mackey / WUIS

The Illinois Senate began voting Wednesday on what’s been called a “grand bargain” to end the state’s 19-month budget fight. But the supposedly bipartisan agreement got zero Republican votes.

The Senate was supposed to have voted on the deal several times before now.

Although Republican Leader Christine Radogno has spent weeks negotiating the particulars with Democratic Senate President John Cullerton, fierce opposition from conservative groups has left rank-and-file Republicans reluctant to seal the deal.

But Cullerton decided it was time to get going.

“I think that by calling these votes, in a way I took her out of her misery," Cullerton says of Radogno. "She wants to vote for it, her caucus is telling her not, and we finally started calling some bills."

Radogno saw it differently: “I think there was a little political theater and drama here.”

She says Republicans want an all or nothing deal — and they’re still working on the most contentious issues, like higher tax rates.

The latest version of the plan would raise the income tax by more than a percentage point and expand the sales tax to cover more transactions.

Despite the hiccup, Radogno says she thinks negotiations can get back on track.