SPRINGFIELD — Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan plans to call a Democratic spending plan for a vote on Friday, amid a midnight fiscal budget deadline and the very real threat of credit agencies dropping the state to “junk” status.
Lawmakers will mark their 10th day of special session on Friday with Gov. Bruce Rauner declaring he’ll keep legislators in Springfield until “they get the job done.”
Leaders met again on Thursday to iron out their differences, including on workers’ compensation and pension reform. While Madigan said he’d call the Democratic spending plan on the floor, Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said House Democrats have a backup plan, placing provisions within the spending plan into “smaller subsets” in case the overall spending bill fails.
“We took the higher education portion, the K-12 and the transportation provisions into separate bills. They’re ready to go. They look exactly the way they look in the main bill. And we may or may not call them. We’ll just see how the votes goes when we vote on the entire spending plan,” Lang said.
State Rep. Greg Harris, Madigan’s appointed budget negotiator, filed an amendment on Thursday to the Senate’s revenue bill. While the income tax rate hike remains at 4.95 percent, streaming and satellite fees have been removed.
“We have closed corporate tax loopholes. We have increased the earned income tax credit for working families to keep more in their pockets. We’ve also restored the research and development and manufacturers’ tax credit to attract more businesses and bring jobs,” Harris said.
Harris said the House Democratic revenue bill matches the Senate bill’s total and would be effective on July 1.
“Our state is peering over the abyss tomorrow. We are confronting a nightmare,” Harris said. “The choice is, if you’re an elected representative and you have been down here, this is the moment. People will remember this vote for a long time.”
Harris said he has spoken with Republican legislators to try to drum up support.
“I’ve been talking to everyone. This will be their decision. How do you go home with the state in collapse?” Harris said.
Illinois Senate President John Cullerton has said he won’t support a stopgap budget, citing the work the Senate already did in clearing a comprehensive budget package. And Rauner is also staunchly opposed to a Band-Aid plan, saying it will do nothing to solve the state’s overall problems.
On Thursday, Madigan outlined some key details of negotiations, including that Democrats don’t want further changes to a local government consolidation measure that cleared the Illinois House on Wednesday.
The speaker maintains, as he has all week, that he told Republican leaders he wants Rauner to sign a school funding formula measure that the governor and Republicans oppose. And he wants the governor to support using a public procurement process to buy managed-care coverage.
Madigan said leaders “exchanged ideas” regarding workers’ compensation, with the speaker pushing for “real rate regulation” of companies that sell workers’ compensation insurance. Republicans, he said, want an adjustment in the medical fee schedule.
The speaker said there were also talks about changes to a four-year property tax freeze bill, which failed in the house on Wednesday. He offered no other specifics on the changes sought.
Asked whether he believed a budget agreement could be reached by midnight on Friday, Madigan stayed neutral.
“I don’t plan to offer any statements of that nature at all. I’m here. I’ll be here tomorrow. I’ll be here for as long as it takes to get the job done,” Madigan said.
The Illinois House on Wednesday passed local government consolidation, workers’ compensation and pension reform bills, three of governor’s much sought after reform subjects. Madigan offered up those votes with Democrats only, despite Republican resistance, as proof he’s “moved considerably to engage” on the issues.
“I don’t see that I’m being unreasonable. I’m here. I’m proposing to vote on things I don’t believe in. I don’t think the government should be about the business of reducing a benefit level for an injured worker,” Madigan said. “That’s not the right thing to do. But in the spirit of compromise, I’m prepared to vote for that.”
Meanwhile, the governor’s office tweeted an image of Rauner sitting in his Springfield office on Thursday: “At my desk, preparing for a balanced budget to arrive. Lawmakers need to come together & get this done for Illinois. Time is running out.”
And with a not so subtle reminder of the political ramifications of the impasse, the Rauner-led Illinois Republican Party on Thursday released a digital ad that accuses Madigan of stalling — convening his members for only 122 minutes during the special session: “Time is running out,” the ad warns.