State: Rauner narrows items, Madigan holds steady

Illinois’ governor has narrowed his agenda to three points he says are not extreme while the leading House Democrat stuck to statements he’s made in the past.

5-leaders-12-1-15-3During the much-anticipated meeting to discuss the budget impasse now in its sixth month between Republican Governor Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders, Rauner said he’s willing to raise taxes but wants three reforms: redistricting reform for political maps, term limits on elected officials, and a property tax freeze with local cost controls.

Several items Rauner had previously pushed for that didn’t get aired Tuesday afternoon were reforms to tort law and workers’ compensation.

Meanwhile Democratic Speaker Michael Madigan recycled statements he’s made saying lawmakers shouldn’t function in the extreme, proposed reforms are non-budget issues, and eliminating the budget deficit is the most pressing issue facing the state. Rauner countered that his reforms are budget issues because they would restore confidence in taxpayers and the business community.

Durkin and Cullerton square off

Meanwhile, Republican Representative Jim Durkin laid the blame for the state’s financial issues on majority Democrats and said there needs to be reforms.

“We have a structural problem. And until you restructure the way we operate government at all levels there will never be enough taxes available to feed government’s appetite for spending and undoubtedly there will never be enough jobs available to restore our economic stature.”

Democratic Senate President John Cullerton addressed Republican Governor Bruce Rauner saying that the leaders and governor need to have more meetings but quickly turned his attention back to Durkin.

“What if I wanted to surrender to you? Where was I supposed to go? So here I am and we’re willing to talk but speeches like that where I totally disagree with most of what you said is not helpful in the negotiation process.”

Cullerton: What’s happening is not good for business

Expect another meeting in the near future between the governor and legislative leaders, and next time legislative staff could be included. After meeting both publicly and behind closed doors with the governor and other legislative leaders, Senate President Cullerton said that going more than five months of a fiscal year without a budget is not good business.

“It’s not good business practices to not have a budget and be downgraded. It’s not good business practices to be spending $38.5 billion when you only have $33 billion. It’s not good business to stop paying your Lottery ticket winners because they’re going to stop buying the tickets.”

Cullerton said that the most positive thing about Tuesday’s meeting was that they met and there are plans for more meetings but suggested staff should be involved to check facts. Leading GOP Senator Radogno agreed more meetings are needed and staff should be involved.

“We’ve got one player who doesn’t speak and one that doesn’t stop speaking, and so we need to give some direction to staff where they can sit down together.”

Radogno says involving staff has not yet happened and the only time real proposals come together are bills being filed, something she says leads to no action on any substantive issues.

Speaker Madigan said a date for the next meeting has not yet been scheduled.

Illinois News Network

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