Republican leaders had a strong message for Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan after the powerful speaker dodged a meeting with the governor on Monday — a week after losing seats to Republicans in the Illinois House:
Get over it.
“Let’s get past the games. The election is over. We won some seats,” House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said after the meeting. “Start governing.”
Despite the rhetoric, a Madigan spokesman said the Southwest Side Democrat will attend a leaders meeting with Rauner at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Durkin and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno still met with Rauner for the proposed leaders meeting on Monday — despite Madigan being a no-show due to a scheduling conflict, and Senate President John Cullerton deciding it wouldn’t be productive to go without the speaker.
The already bitter rivalry between Rauner and Madigan intensified even more so during the election, when both parties threw big bucks at TV ads and fliers attacking the governor and speaker. The leaders meeting would have been the first time the governor and Madigan met face to face since the election.
The Illinois General Assembly comes back on Tuesday for the first of six veto session days. But Durkin instead asked the leaders to consider focusing on the budget, instead of overriding vetoes.
“We’ve got six days when there’s some action before the chamber on vetoes and amendatory vetoes. I’m going to ask the Democratic leaders, as a sign of good faith to not call any of the bills and use the time we have scheduled strictly dedicated to a full balanced budget,” Durkin said.
Durkin won five Democratically held seats in the Illinois House last week, but lost another that his party held, for a net GOP gain of four seats. Rauner lost his appointed comptroller, Leslie Munger. And Radogno picked up two seats in her chamber.
Radogno called Democratic leaders’ absences on Monday “completely inexcusable.”
The Lemont Republican dismissed Madigan’s Monday scheduling conflict as “game playing,” and said it is a “dereliction of duty” if he is staying away because of last week’s political losses.
“I can’t imagine what conflict is more important than the challenges facing the people of the state of Illinois, especially after last week when people across the state and across the country have sent the indication that they want change,” Radogno said.
“I understand that Madigan is the one that said he had a conflict. I frankly am disappointed that President Cullerton once again is going to walk in his shadow. It is unfortunate because he’s the one that has indicated a willingness by his statements and so on to want to participate in finding a solution.”
“Both of us won some seats, but they are still the majority party,” Durkin said.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said the responses from Republican leaders on Monday have all been heard before: “Clearly it was nothing new. We’ve already heard this 30 times before. Maybe tomorrow they’ll have a budget to propose.”
As for Durkin proposing to work on the budget instead of the veto session at hand: “He’s figured out the clock is running and those bills are going to be dead.”
A Cullerton spokesman confirmed he would also be at the Tuesday meeting.
Meanwhile, a six-month budget agreement — forged after the state went a year without a budget — is set to run out at the end of the year.