Governor, Legislative Leaders Meet For The First Time This Year
Illinois' top legislators and the governor met yesterday for the first time this year. There's no indication it led to any resolution of the state's prolonged budget stalemate.
The private meeting lasted roughly an hour.
Neither Gov. Bruce Rauner nor any of the four legislative leaders had any direct comment on how it went (they slipped of the governor's capitol office through back doors that enabled them to avoid media waiting outside) but Speaker Michael Madigan made clear where he stands shortly after in a rare, ten minute speech on the House floor.
"The current budget crisis was completely avoidable. While this crisis was avoidable, Gov. Rauner has refused to put an end to the crisis," he said."Over the last 13 months compromise has been very difficult to achieve. Never before has the state gone this long without a budget. Every other governor that I have worked with has negotiated with the General Assembly in good faith to help the people of Illinois and to insure that the people of our state did not needlessly suffer."
Democrats then passed a $4 billion spending package, to fund universities and social services that have been waiting for money since July. It comes as universities have laid off faculty, and Chicago State University warns it may have to shut down at the end of the month.
This isn't likely to do the trick.
Rauner's office worked against the measure, saying Illinois doesn't have the money. The governor first wants what he calls "reforms."
Just hours before the meeting, while speaking to a business group, Rauner blamed Madigan for blocking that agenda. "The General Assembly -- the Democrats under the Speaker have refused to vote on any of it. And I'll tell you what's going on right now, the General Assembly -- the Democrats in the majority -- are working very aggressively to try to force a big tax hike with no reforms. They are working really hard right now," Rauner said.
Democrats hold super majorities in both chambers.