Illinois has gone four and a half months without a budget. It's gone even longer -- five and a half months -- since the governor and leaders of the legislature have all gotten together to talk about it; the last time that happened was at the end of May. They're scheduled to finally come together next week, on Wed., Nov. 18 But the meeting's particulars have themselves become a subject of controversy.
About a week out from the summit, House Speaker Michael Madigan said Tuesday he doesn't know what exactly he's signed up to talk about at the meeting.
“Well you know that there was a letter from the governor where he claimed that he would do the agenda. And the people that first called the meeting disagreed with that. My view would be that there ought to be interaction with the people who called the meeting in terms of setting the agenda," Madigan said. “It hasn’t been settled. We’re very anxious about this, very anxious."
Upon accepting an invitation last month from a coalition of good government groups offering to bring everyone to the table. Gov. Bruce Rauner said he'd take it from there, but so far, Madigan says, there's no agenda. Now, that same coalition has sent another letter, asking for one.
"Everybody should take this very seriously. It doesn't matter whose idea it was or how it got started. We just have to make sure it happens," said the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's Susan Garrett, who's spearheading the effort. "Now more than every we need clarity and a commitment to resolve our budget impasse, and we don't have ... that commitment yet."
Garrett says basic information, like if the meeting will be in Chicago or Springfield, aren't clear. And that's not all.
Initially the meeting was to be public. But now a coalition of business groups is calling for it to be private, so discussions can be frank, and away from a "media spectacle."
Rauner's office declined a request to comment.