Rep. Butler Talks State Budget, AFSCME And State Museum

May 23, 2016

Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield)

A Springfield State Representative says he's not overly optimistic a full budget deal can be agreed to before the scheduled end of the legislature's spring session May 31.

Republican Tim Butler says 11 months into the budget impasse, some of the same obstacles remain.

"For us on the Republican side, we are committed to find a balanced budget, something we really have not had come out of the statehouse in a long time." he said.  "There are plenty of those on the Republican side who think the Speaker (Democrat Michael Madigan) is holding this up to try to hang it on the governor."

Butler says no one is winning in this fight and he can't imagine going another year without a budget.  Much of government has continued to operate through court orders and consent decrees that ensure money is flowing.  State employees are also getting paid and schools were open this past year.

Butler says there is common ground among rank and file lawmakers.  He points to issues like changing worker's compensation to give a break to employers. 

But in the end, it will need to be a compromise between Governor Bruce Rauner and Speaker Madigan. 

"They believe this is a true struggle for the future of Illinois.  And I don't think they agree on a lot of issues in the way to move forward.  There has also been some personality clashes as well," he said.

On other topics, Butler said he wants to see the Illinois State Museum re-open.  He's pushing a plan to create an admission fee.  He added the Department of Natural Resources has told him, if given the go ahead, the agency could have the museum open in about two weeks.  There is still disagreement on adding the fee and more.  Butler said he hopes to see action this week.

"The museum is going to re-open.  I'm just not sure when it's going to re-open," he said.

He also said he told the Governor that his administration made the wrong decision to go to the Illinois Labor Relations Board and ask for contract talks with AFSCME to be declared at an impasse.  A ruling is expected in coming weeks.  Some believe it might lead to a union strike.

"I believe if both sides get truthful about their negotiations, they can figure it out," he said, also pointing out he doesn't favor an arbitrator being brought in.  The union has sought that as a way to resolve the situation.