WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Budget Breakthrough? Not Tuesday

Oct 21, 2015
Originally published on October 20, 2015 8:43 pm

Illinois lawmakers' one-day session Tuesday yielded no budget breakthroughs. The state's been without a spending plan for what'll soon reach five months.

It was the first time legislators had been at the capitol since last month, but neither sides' position appeared to have thawed since then.

Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon, describes the GOP's united stand with Gov. Bruce Rauner as "the concept that we can't continue to do the same types of budgets we've done in previous years and expert there to be different results, and that any kind of budget solution should include some kind of structural reforms for the state."

But Democrats, who control the legislature, say those "structural reforms" are unreasonable, and unrelated to the budget.

"I was elected by people in my district to work for the state government. The governor was elected to work for the state government," House Speaker Michael Madigan said. "We ought to focus on state government problems like the budget deficit and work to solve that problem with a balanced approach; some cuts, some new revenue."

Madigan says a recent credit downgrade proves that position.

The Speaker says he's met with Rauner several times recently in meetings described as "cordial."

"The circumstances here are different than we've seen in the past. I think we can all agree upon that. Therefore the ultimate solution may be different than in the past," Madigan said.

A couple of piecemeal budget measures inched forward Tuesday; but those, too, were subject to partisan divides. With only Democratic support, a House committee approved a plan to spend nearly $2 billion.

It would would allow the Lottery to once again pay winners, would get local governments money for road projects and would fund 911 call centers. Democrats say it's releasing only "pass-through" money that's not from the state's main checking account, but Republicans won't go for a piecemeal approach.

Rauner and legislators weren't alone in the capitol Tuesday; advocates for a child care program that's been cut, university students, and providers of mental health and homeless services were at the statehouse to lobby for funding.

Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Springfield Nov. 10.

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