By Dan McCaleb & Greg Bishop
Illinois News Network
Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno, who led Senate Republican efforts to negotiate the so-called grand bargain package of budget and reform bills with Democrats, will resign at the end of this week. Gov. Bruce Rauner and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle said her leadership will be missed.
“It truly is an honor to represent the 41st Senate District and my Republican colleagues in the Illinois Senate,” Radogno said in the statement. “I have done the job to the very best of my ability and always with the needs of the state and my constituents in mind. I am proud of my legislative accomplishments – none of which were achieved alone. I have always appreciated the support, advice and counsel of my colleagues in both parties, staff and family.”
The on-again, off-again grand bargain negotiations ultimately broke off in mid-May, leading the Democratic supermajority in the Senate to pass its bills with no Republican support.
“I have particularly enjoyed my friendship and working relationship with Senate President John Cullerton that began the day we were chosen as leaders of our respective caucuses,” Radogno said. “However, I believe it’s time for a new Senate Republican leader.”
Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, said he appreciated that Radogno worked across the aisle to try to resolve the state’s budget stalemate.
“Her willingness to set traditional partisan politics aside, her true sincerity, and wanting to get something done, it’s really unfortunate,” Raoul said. “I think she had the rug pulled out from underneath her.”
Democrats accused Rauner of sabotaging the grand bargain bills though Republicans have denied that. Lawmakers remain in special session as they attempt to end a two-year budget impasse. The current fiscal year ends Friday. If a deal isn’t reached by then, the state will enter its third year with no approved budget.
“It’s a huge loss,” Raoul said. “It leaves a big, huge, gaping hole to fill if we don’t get something done by the end of the day tomorrow.”
Raoul said he hopes that will prompt lawmakers to reach a deal by the end of the day Friday.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin said Radogno’s contributions have been immeasurable.
“Chris Radogno has been my Senator and Co-Republican Leader for many years,” Durkin said in a statement. “I am fortunate to call her a confidant and friend. Her contributions to her district and the State of Illinois are immeasurable. Chris always stayed above the fray in this very partisan environment. Her constituents and I will miss her valued leadership.”
Rauner had nothing but praise for Radogno.
“It’s been an honor and a privilege to work alongside Leader Radogno these last two years as we continue to try to improve the lives of the people of Illinois,” Rauner said in a statement. “She is a consummate professional and public servant, who has championed fiscal responsibility and human services that help our most vulnerable residents. While she will be sorely missed, Diana and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Radogno has served in the Senate since 1997. Her suburban Chicago district covers communities in DuPage, Cook and Will counties.
“I have done everything I can do to resolve the state’s budget crisis,” Radogno said. “I will continue to do so for the coming days. But if the solution will not come on my watch, I hope and pray that the governor, other legislative leaders, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House can find a path to solve the state’s problems.”
She said the Republican Caucus has been discussing a plan for a smooth transition of power.