Rauner delays leaders meeting, wants Dem budget proposal

Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan | AP file photo

Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration and Republican leaders are delaying a planned legislative leaders meeting Thursday in Chicago, saying they’ll reconvene when Democratic leaders are prepared to present a budget proposal.

“The governor and Republican leaders remain ready to negotiate on a balanced budget with reforms to grow jobs, lower property taxes, improve schools and implement term limits,” Rauner deputy chief of staff Lance Trover said in a statement. “However, Democratic leaders continue to discuss internally whether they are prepared to present a budget proposal, so we will schedule the next Four Leaders meeting when we receive confirmation that they are ready.”

Rauner’s administration said the delay was prompted after reaching Rep. Greg Harris and learning the Democratic leaders were not planning to present their budget proposal. Harris has been attending leaders meetings alongside House Speaker Michael Madigan as his “chief negotiator.”

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said it’s the governor who should be presenting a budget, not leaders. But signaled the speaker would try to work with the governor to try to move forward with talks.

“We’re going to try to examine and try to understand the governor’s actions,” Brown said. “The Democrats have been working tirelessly to deal with the budget issues. Somehow they had it in their heads that we’re going to take over some executive action. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

“We’re trying to do what the governor is asking us to do and go forward,” Brown said.

A spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton said he was “disappointed” in what he hoped would be a “robust discussion on a budget framework.”

“President Cullerton has participated in these meetings to keep moving toward a fair and balanced budget. He thought that progress, albeit slow, was finally being made,” spokesman John Patterson said. “President Cullerton hopes the governor will reconsider and get everyone to the table so we can keep working.”

The Democratic and Republican leaders last met with Rauner on Tuesday, with Republican leaders saying Madigan and Cullerton were stalling in order to get another partial budget passed.

Rauner has said he’ll only approve another stopgap budget it if includes term limits and a permanent property tax freeze.

Madigan left Tuesday’s meeting saying he wants to start working groups to talk about Rauner’s reforms –essentially removing them from budget talks with the governor and legislative leaders.

Meanwhile, the state runs out of spending authority in 24 days to fund state universities and social service agencies under a stopgap budget.

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