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House Dem On Budget: 'We Can't Do It On Our Own'

Lou Lang
file / Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
State Rep. Lou Lang, at podium, and other members of the Illinois House Democratic leadership team.

Wednesday is the last day of the Illinois General Assembly's annual legislative session.

It also happens to mark 700 days since Illinois last had a real budget. Majority Democrats still aren’t saying whether they plan to do anything about that.

This is the same position House Democrats have put themselves in for three years running — going into the end of session without a clear path on the budget.

For Democrats, political considerations are top of mind.

Rep. Will Davis, from Homewood, is sponsoring the House version of a tax plan approved last week in the Senate. He says he doesn’t think his fellow Democrats should vote on taxes that don't have enough support to pass.

“I think that walks us backwards, and possibly gives the governor a lot of rhetoric to say about Democrats not being able to pass their own revenue package," he says.

Some Democrats say it’ll be better to wait until June, when the constitution requires more votes to pass a spending plan. That, they say, could force both parties to come to terms.

State Representative Lou Lang, from Skokie, says even if Democrats do not pass a spending plan in May, it doesn’t mean they’re abdicating their responsibility.

“We have worked tirelessly for the last two-and-a-half years under Gov. Bruce Rauner to get a budget," Lang says. "And we can’t do it on our own.”

Democrats say they’ve been trying to meet Governor Bruce Rauner partway on what they call his "non-budget" agenda — like selling the Thompson Center in Chicago, streamlining government, and freezing property taxes.

Rauner’s people, however, have dismissed those efforts as “phony.”

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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