Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday called lawmakers back to Springfield for a 10-day special session beginning next week, to try to put an end to the historic budget impasse.
Rauner made the announcement in a Facebook video in which he also pushed for a Republican-backed “compromise” budget plan. The clock is ticking toward the end of the fiscal year, with a new one beginning July 1.
“Today, I’m calling the General Assembly back here to Springfield — a continuous special session that will start next week and stay in effect until a balanced budget is passed,” Rauner said. “We have tough, urgent choices to make and the Legislature must be present to make them.”
The GOP plan is essentially a blueprint for what Rauner wants in order to sign a budget. And it takes a crack at the plan Senate Democrats already passed.
The summons was of course met by some criticism: “Special session? Where have you been?” Illinois Senate President John Cullerton told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday. “The Senate has passed everything you wanted us to pass.”
The Senate president said he won’t call a Republican spending bill without a corresponding revenue bill.
Senate Democrats already passed a revenue bill with no Republican support. And while Rauner and the Republicans say they’ll now back a tax plan on their own terms, Republicans aren’t on record for voting for the measure, which would hike the income tax to 4.95 percent.
“I’m not going to vote on that [spending bill] unless we have a corresponding revenue bill to vote on, and they have to introduce that. And it would be helpful if the governor would say he’s for it because he’s never done that,” Cullerton said. “We are not going to take up any spending bills, especially since we already passed the governor’s exact introduced spending bill. So it’s hard to say that there’s anything wrong with that if you are a Republican.”
The Republican plan introduced on Wednesday is reliant upon a revenue bill, but didn’t include one. The politically unpopular measure continues to be a sticking point in the budget impasse.
Among the governor’s top priorities is a four-year property tax freeze paired with a four-year income tax hike. Senate Democrats last month passed a two-year property tax freeze, amid concerns that a four-year freeze would negatively affect poor school districts.
But Cullerton noted the impetus is on the Illinois House, which now has control over the two-year property tax measure the Senate passed.
“It’s a Senate bill. Go ahead. Amend it and pass it. Anything they pass over there on a bipartisan fashion, because it has to be, there would be a really strong likelihood that the Senate would go along,” Cullerton said.
Meanwhile, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said Thursday that House Democrats have already voted to cut property taxes; reform workers’ compensation; make changes to improve the business climate; reform the state procurement code, and sell the Thompson Center.
“House Democrats will continue our work on the budget from Springfield, but as Governor Rauner has met each of our attempts to date with refusal, it’s clear that the onus is on the governor to show that he is finally serious about working in good faith to end the crisis he has manufactured,” Madigan said in a statement.
Republican leaders said they hope to work in good faith with Democrats to break the impasse. But Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said the pending fiscal year deadline “and the House Democrats failure to produce a budget during session” warranted Rauner’s action.
The special session will begin on Wednesday, June 21, with lawmakers expected to be in session through the end of June.
The Democratic leaders were expected to bring back lawmakers in June but never announced a specific date. With the special session, lawmakers will be paid $111 a day per diem and 39 cents per miles driven. They would not have been paid a per diem if leaders had summoned them back.