Progress? Lawmakers, Rauner Compromise ... Kind Of.

Nov 10, 2015

House Speaker Michael Madigan shakes hands with social service advocates disappointed that House Democrats failed -- barely -- in their effort to enshrine more generous benefits into law, on the heels of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner saying he would reverse cuts to their programs.
Credit Amanda Vinicky

Five months into operating without a state budget, Illinois Democrats and Republicans came together Tuesday to pass a budget bill. But it was a relatively minor one; a full agreement is sure to be a ways off.

This is something that hasn't been said much this session, at least by a Republican to a Democrat, when it comes anything having to do with the budget: a Republican, in this case House GOP Leader Jim Durkin, saying "I plan to vote for your bill today,and I've also encouraged my caucus to vote for your bill as well."

The measure would authorize $2 billion in funding for Lottery payouts, municipal road maintenance, and 911 call centers.

Republicans have, until now, mostly refused to go along with such piecemeal spending.

It may be a sign of compromise.

It comes as Gov. Bruce Rauner has just backed away from drastic cuts to a few social programs.

Then again, maybe not. Rauner may have just been saving face; without his change in direction, it's likely lawmakers would have gone around him and reversed his cuts themselves (even some Republicans were ready to undo them). Advocates for those programs say it's laughable that the governor is trying to claim credit for averting cuts that he alone instituted.

Republicans say Democrats are still playing politics.

Durkin, says Democrats were "confrontational" Tuesday, and were more interested in politics than compromise.

Further, dollars from that compromise budget bill won't begin flowing anytime soon. It still has to pass the Senate, and the Senate's not scheduled to reconvene until January.

House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Democrat, was asked whether there'd been progress. He says the answer is mixed.

"Obviously, uh, the governor has restored some programs. That's good," he said. "But we're obviously a long way away from a final resolution."

Madigan says the governor still needs to back off his anti-union, pro-business demands.