Gov. Bruce Rauner has called 10 special sessions of the Illinois General Assembly for the end of the month.
This story is a mix of new and old: It’s new that the governor is calling special sessions. He hasn’t done so in the past two years of the budget impasse. But in a video message posted online, Rauner says the time is now.
“We have little time to change the direction of our state — to come together around a budget compromise,” Rauner says.
What’s old about this story is that Rauner is essentially asking Democrats to do what he’s been asking all along: pass his economic and political agenda as part of a deal to balance the budget.
“For two years, the majority in the General Assembly has ignored our recommendations for a long-term, balanced budget,” Rauner says in the video.
The Democratic majority disputes that. House Speaker Michael Madigan says Rauner’s agenda includes “non-budget items” that would hurt middle-class families — like changing the rules around compensating workplace injuries.
A spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton, also a Democrat, points out that the Senate already passed a balanced budget — one that includes elements of the governor's agenda.
And even as the the governor was using phrases like “come together,” the Republican Party has been sending out mailers attacking Democrats. Rauner has been a major funder of the party — personally contributing more than $30 million since 2014, including $1.5 million this month.
The special sessions are to begin Wednesday and run every day through the end of June. The new fiscal year begins July 1st.