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Illinois Leaders Go Quiet -- Is No News Good News?

Brian Mackey
The press briefing room in the Illinois Statehouse.

Springfield's top political leaders are continuing to meet in private as the clock runs down on Illinois' budget year.

The House and Senate leaders — Democratic and Republican — went all year without sitting down together. That finally changed Sunday, and they've been meeting regularly since.

They’ve also been coming out and holding news conferences to complain about each other — until Wednesday, when they went quiet.

I later caught up with both Republican legislative leaders in the Statehouse rotunda.

“We’re still working and meeting and meeting again tomorrow, so that’s all good news,” Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno said.

I asked if she was more or less optimistic about the chances of a budget deal this week.

“Nobody came out swinging, so that’s a good thing,” Radogno said.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin's assessment was similarly noncommittal: “Every day that we meet, we talk. And we can agree and disagree — I’m not getting into specifics. But I’ll say the meeting was — I found it productive.”

At the Capitol, it can be a sign of progress when party leaders don’t say much to the press. It could mean they don’t want to upset their negotiations.

Gov. Bruce Rauner has mostly been quiet during these negotiations. He hasn't been participating in the leaders' meetings, though Republicans have said they're keeping in touch with him.

Rauner did issue a statement Wednesday saying he’d keep lawmakers in special session until a budget is passed. So far he's only called special sessions through Friday, June 30, the last day of Illinois' fiscal year.

Brian Mackey covers Illinois state government and politics from the WUIS Statehouse bureau. He was previously A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He can be reached at (217) 206-6020.