It looks like state lawmakers could be in store for a long, uncomfortable summer in Springfield.
With less than a week to go to pass a new state budget, negotiations between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled Legislature appeared to break down Monday at the Capitol.
House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, announced Democrats would soon offer their own $36.3 billion spending plan that reflects “what the state of Illinois should do for Illinoisans who need the government to be helpful to them.”
Madigan acknowledged “we don’t have the money to pay for this budget” —in fact they’ll be about $3 billion short — but he said he’s prepared to work with Rauner to find “new money.”
Rauner’s surrogates have already said the Legislature must pass key pieces of his agenda before he will entertain new sources of revenue. And on Monday, Rauner was in no mood to play Madigan’s games.
Lance Trover, a spokesman for the governor, fired a shot at the powerful House speaker nearly an hour before Madigan made his remarks.
“Speaker Madigan and the politicians he controls are walking away from the negotiating table and refusing to compromise on critical reforms needed to turn around Illinois,” Trover said in a statement. “Instead, they appear ready to end the regular session with yet another broken budget or massive tax hike — and no structural reforms. The speaker and his allies in the Legislature are sorely mistaken if they believe the people of Illinois will accept doubling down on a broken system that has failed Illinois over the last dozen years.”
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin later piled on.
“The House Democrats affirmed today that they don’t want to pass reforms that will fix a broken state government, but only want to raise taxes,” Durkin said in a statement. “Instead of working with Republicans in a bipartisan manner to fix the deep financial crisis that they caused, Democrats insist on continuing down the path of crafting and passing unbalanced budgets that spend billions more than we can afford.”
Meanwhile, even while calling for Rauner to work with Democrats in the Legislature, Madigan needled the governor for proposing in February a budget that counted on $2.2 billion in savings from a pension reform plan Democrats labeled as constitutionally dubious. In the meantime, the Illinois Supreme Court has struck down a pension overhaul plan passed under former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and appeared to leave lawmakers with little choice on pensions but to pay up.
On Monday, Madigan said Rauner counted on pension savings in his budget “which we had no reason to anticipate would actually happen.”
But further, the long-time House speaker called on the new governor to stop introducing “non-budget issues” — like term limits and redistricting — into the budget process. Illinois Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno, R-Lemont, has called on her Democratic colleagues to tackle those and other issues before Republicans will consider raising taxes.
And in an op-ed piece published in the State Journal-Register, Rauner said lawmakers not ready to reform how Illinois does business “should expect a very long extra session.”
Madigan said Monday that “issuing threats really is not helpful to this process.”
Rauner “has his views on what should be done by the government, and others in the Legislature have different views,” Madigan said. “That’s just the way it is. What he’s attempting to do is to mix apples and oranges.”
The deadline to pass the budget is Sunday.