There was a rare meeting Thursday among Gov. Bruce Rauner and the top leaders of the Illinois General Assembly.
Rauner is trying to reassert his role in budget-making, after more than a dozen fellow Republicans sidelined him last summer, working with Democrats to end a two-year stalemate.
Democratic Senate President John Cullerton came out of the meeting with a relatively optimistic take: "The process will be much easier because the governor’s assuming a lot more money than we had in the past."
Cullerton says Rauner is essentially acknowledging Illinois needs the extra money raised by last year’s tax hike — though Cullerton says that does undercut the governor’s campaigning against higher tax rates: “Yeah, it doesn’t square. It’s hypocritical and inconsistent."
For his part, Rauner is still urging lawmakers to take up his business-friendly, union-weakening agenda. But unlike years past, he doesn’t seem to be making it a prerequisite for negotiating a budget.
Rauner says as long as the final budget is balanced and has no new taxes, he’ll be “inclined to sign it.”