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Rauner, Madigan each say the other put us in this mess

Weeks into the budget impasse, Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday said the whole mess would be solved if not for one powerful man: Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. 

At a Springfield press conference, the governor said the budget would have been done by now if he were working solely with Senate President John Cullerton and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“We would have this done,” Rauner said, adding: “The speaker doesn’t want to deal with it right now.”

Instead, Rauner said, Madigan “wants pressure to build” by allowing crucial services for the sick, elderly and children to go unfunded.

“He knows what should happen,” Rauner said, adding House Democrats “want an impact — they want people hit by this lack of budget.”

But Madigan hit back later in the day, saying Rauner is continuing “diversionary tactics” that show he’s “functioning in the extreme” in his push for “non-budget issues.”

“He seems to forget that the Legislature sent him a spending plan that would have helped him protect middle class families,” Madigan said, pointing the finger right back at the governor.

“He chose to do an outright veto and put us all in the situation that we’re in today,” the speaker said.

Madigan has been asked repeatedly about Rauner’s personal comments in the last few weeks, trying to isolate Madigan from his fellow Democrats.

“I’m not dealing in speculation. I’m not dealing in name-calling. I’m not going to go there,” Madigan said Tuesday. “I’m simply going to say that I stand ready as I have for several months to work cooperatively and professionally with Gov. Rauner. What we ought to do is to get about the business of working on the No. 1 problem facing the state of Illinois, the budget deficit.”

Historically during a budget stalemate, the governor and legislative leaders have made a deal in private. But Madigan told reporters last week that he didn’t presume those players would negotiate a deal.

The House speaker continues to categorize his private meetings with the governor as being courteous and “at times, productive.”

The speaker said he was able to advise Rauner—prior to his budget bill veto—of his constitutional right to line-item veto or reduction veto.

And despite the harsh words, which included Rauner saying the speaker is “ruling with an iron fist” and that the dysfunction in Springfield is “about the Chicago machine and Madigan’s power,” Rauner reiterated on Tuesday that he “gets along well with the speaker.

“I don’t feel any personal animosity,” the governor said.

Just two weeks ago, Madigan called Rauner’s attempt to drive a wedge in Democratic alliances a “divide-and-conquer strategy, which is not working too well.”

On Tuesday, he called the latest attack “regretful.”

“I don’t think it helps what we’re trying to do. I would reiterate again, I’m not going to get into that type of conduct. I’m just not going to do it,” Madigan said.

Rauner on Tuesday also called on Madigan to discuss legislative pay raises, which Rauner said is “such a symbol of what’s wrong with our government.”

Madigan would not comment on the raises last week. But on Tuesday told reporters the pay raise wasn’t in his spending plan: “We did not appropriate for the pay raise or the COLA adjustment,” he said.

He called talk of the raises another Rauner “diversion,” a way for him to get away from solving the budget deficit.

And despite the name-calling and long summer House sessions, Madigan said “some progress” has been made.

“The public in general is becoming very much aware of the governor’s advocacy of non-budget issues that go against the core beliefs of both Democrats and Republicans because they reduce wages and the standard of living and they force injured workers into welfare and into emergency rooms,” Madigan said.

“That’s the benefit that I see, that all across Illinois, Illinoisans are coming to realize what is at issue in this budget standoff.”

Contributing: Natasha Korecki