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Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks to reporters in June following a luncheon at the Palmer House in Chicago. State Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno is on the left, and House Republican Leader Jim Durkin is on the right. File Photo. | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times

Gov. Rauner still awaiting Madigan’s RSVP on leaders meeting

SHARE Gov. Rauner still awaiting Madigan’s RSVP on leaders meeting
SHARE Gov. Rauner still awaiting Madigan’s RSVP on leaders meeting

President Barack Obama and Republican President-elect Donald Trump can sit down and talk after the election, but can Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan?

Rauner on Thursday invited the four top legislative leaders to a meeting on Monday ahead of the first veto session — but still no word on whether Madigan will show up. Madigan spokesman Steve Brown hadn’t returned calls for comment on Thursday.

A spokesman for Illinois Senate President John Cullerton said “schedules were being checked” to see if Cullerton could attend.

The meeting between the Republican governor and the leaders would be the first after a grueling and expensive legislative campaign cycle, one in which Madigan and Cullerton collectively lost six Democratic seats in the House and Senate.

In what seemed like an endless campaign, Republicans painted Madigan as the architect of the state’s problems in ominous TV ads. Democrats did the same, working hard to try to link Rauner to Donald Trump.

At issue since Rauner took office is that he will only approve a spending plan with items from his Turnaround Agenda, which includes changes in workers compensation reform, limits on collective bargaining and term limits. He has said repeatedly that he won’t accept budget cuts and tax hikes without a plan to grow the state’s economy.

Madigan continues to resist Rauner’s reforms, saying he is trying to protect the middle class.

Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan addresses the City Club of Chicago in 2015.

Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan speaking to the City Club of Chicago, at the University Club of Chicago last year. File Photo. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Rich Hein/Sun-Times file

It’s unclear what the shift in the Illinois General Assembly will do for much-needed plans to enact a full-year budget and approve a pension reform bill by the end of the year.The state is still operating on a temporary stopgap budget that was approved in July.

Legislators have scheduled fall veto sessions fornext Tuesday through Thursday andNov. 29,Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

The governor’s office confirmed Rauner sent out his requeston Thursday, asking the leaders to a meeting at their convenience, either in Chicago or Springfield.

Rauner issued a statementon Wednesdayurging unity for the state, and to leave the divisive election behind.

“Let’s come together and focus on the future and improving the quality of life for every family in our state,” Rauner said in the statement. “The people of Illinois deserve prompt, bi-partisan action to solve problems and get good things done – to make Illinois more competitive so we can be more compassionate – to enact truly balanced budgets along with reforms that grow more jobs and protect taxpayers.”

Despite the legislative losses, Madigan, indicated in the hours after the election that he’s still ready to put up a fight.

“Democrats value the voters’ trust and we will continue to protect the middle class and those who don’t have access to billionaires and lobbyists,” Madigan said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Cullerton was to the point, saying the “numbers on each side of the aisle may change but our problems haven’t.”

“The sooner everyone can set aside politics and focus on policy, the better,” Cullerton said in a statement Wednesday, adding he’s optimistic that progress can continue.

State Senate President John Cullerton speaks with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board last year. File Photo. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

State Senate President John Cullerton speaks with the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board last year. File Photo. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

Sun-Times file photo

Republican legislative leaderson Thursdayconfirmed their attendance at the leaders meeting, saying it will be a good way to shift the focus back to the issues Illinois faces.

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said the meeting will be a “prime opportunity to jumpstart our collaborative process.”

“The time is now to come together to address the serious issues facing Illinois with comprehensive solutions,” Radogno said in a statement. “I look forward to joining the Governor and my colleagueson Monday.”

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin urged leaders to come together with an “open mind.”

“With the election behind us, it is time we get back to work fixing Illinois. I am absolutely ready and willing to meeton Mondayto restart negotiations on a balanced budget solution and reforms,” Durkin said in a statement. “The voters of Illinois sent us to Springfield to solve problems, they demand cooperation and compromise. We can get the job done if both parties agree to keep an open mind, and return to the table.”

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