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As Negotiations Continue, Both Sides Ask: Will It Be Enough?

Democrats and Republicans are continuing to negotiate in Springfield as Illinois is approaching two years without a budget. Both sides are narrowing their focus.

Republicans are emphasizing three issues: lowering the cost of workers’ compensation, cutting state pensions, and freezing property taxes.

House Republican Leader Jim Durkin says if Democrats try to water down changes in those areas, he’ll have a hard time winning support for a budget deal.

“I need to sell it to my caucus," Durkin says. "Our caucus is not about just a budget — they want to see change in Illinois."

Meanwhile, Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan says his Republican counterparts will also have to bring Gov. Bruce Rauner along.

“The responsibility will lie upon the Republican leaders to take the positions that will be negotiated between the Democratic designees and the Republicans, to take those positions to the governor and persuade the governor to be reasonable,” Madigan says.

Rauner has made passage of his political and economic agenda a prerequisite for negotiating a balanced budget.

That’s been the main holdup over two years of stalemate, as Democrats say Rauner has been holding the budget “hostage.”

Rauner says his agenda is necessary to improve business confidence in Illinois, which he says will lead to a stronger economy.

The governor has not been directly participating in these negotiations, though Republicans say they are working with him.

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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