Both the Illinois House and Senate return to work in Springfield today. Just over two weeks remain before the annual legislative session is scheduled to end.
After 22 months without a budget, all eyes have been on the state Senate. But after another failed attempt to vote on the "grand bargain” last week, it’s reasonable to ask if anyone is thinking about plan B.
The answer from Senate budget negotiators is: not yet. Each says they're still trying to make a comprehensive deal both sides can live with.
“We are focused on getting an agreement on a budget that has cuts in it, that is balanced, that has reforms,” says Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican from Mattoon.
Sen. Heather Steans, a Democrat from Chicago, say they're still negotiating: “I’m remaining really optimistic that we’re actually going to get some Republicans to yes, and thats certainly my hope."
That would mean Democrats satisfying Gov. Bruce Rauner’s business and political agenda, and Republicans agreeing on a series of tax hikes to begin stabilizing state finances.