News Local/State

With ‘Grand Bargain’ In Doubt, State Senators Go Home Until Tuesday

Republican State Senator Chapin Rose of Mahomet.

St. Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) during a 2016 news conference in Springfield. Although dissatisfied with the "grand bargain" budget compromise as it stands, Rose says both sides have been working in good faith towards an agreement. Seth Perlman / AP

Illinois Senators left Springfield Thursday without voting on the so-called “grand bargain.”

Senate President John Cullerton says Democrats were left out to dry by Governor Bruce Rauner. He says Rauner instructed Republicans to withhold their support.

But GOP Senator Chapin Rose, of Mahomet, says his side can wait a couple more weeks for a better deal.

“Look at how much this has changed in 60 days,” said Rose. “If you would’ve said the perfect is getting in the way of the good on January 1st, then you would’ve had huge a tax increase with very little to show for it.”

Rose said he had never been ready to support the grand bargain in its present form.

“Part of the problem here,” said Rose, “are these expectations that people keep creating by saying, ‘Well this is the day — or this is gonna the day. But if you look where you’ve gotten, in each incremental space there, you’re taking issues off the table.”

Rose might have been referring to Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno, who at the beginning of the week said that is senators didn’t get voting on the budget package started on Tuesday, Feb. 27, they “may as well just go home.”

Some bills in the budget package passed on Tuesday, with heavy Democratic and some Republican support. But the momentum did not carry into Wednesday and Thursday.

One area of contention continues to be how much of a freeze to impose on property taxes. Governor Rauner has been pushing for a permanent freeze on local property taxes for the past two years. Democrats are offering a temporary freeze, and after three months of negotiations, they say they’ve gone as far as they can go.

While no votes were taken on budget bills in the Senate on Thursday, a Senate Democrat did file legislation spelling out services that would be included under an expanded state sales tax.

Olympia Fields Democrat Toi Hutchinson’s legislation would extend the 6.25% sales tax to cover rented storage space, landscaping, pest control body piercing and more.

Hutchinson added it to a measure that would increase the state income tax.

Through all the wrangling, Senator Rose says both sides in the Senate have been working in good faith. He says since the Illinois House hasn’t introduced its own budget plan, the negotiations in the Senate are “the only game in town.”​

Both the Illinois House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene in Springfield on Tuesday, March 7.