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Voices In The News 2017

John Cullerton and Christine Radogno
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
The year began with Senate President John Cullerton and Minority Leader Christine Radogno announcing what would become known as the grand bargain to end the budget stalemate. It never passed.

As we get ready to welcome 2018, we thought we’d take a few minutes to listen back to another wild year in Illinois government and politics.

We heard state Senators trying to craft a “grand bargain” to end the budget impasse — and 16 Republicans breaking with the governor to do just that. It was also the start of campaign season, and a time of increasing anger by and about politicians.

Here now are some of the voices that made news in 2017.

SENATE PRESIDENT JOHN CULLERTON: “For the past several weeks, (Senate Republican) Leader (Christine) Radogno and I have been talking about how to solve the problems of our state. It’s been a very frank discussion, and we have a lot of realities to face. I think we in the Senate recognize the problems, and that we potentially close to an agreement on how to solve them, but we’re not quite there.”

(FORMER) SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER CHRISTINE RADOGNO: “So as we begin the 100th General Assembly, I would like to focus on what’s united us over the past two days, rather than what’s divided us over the past two years.”

HOUSE SPEAKER MICHAEL MADIGAN: “Two years where we disagreed much, and worked to find the worst in each other. Let us work to end the acrimony, and find the best in each other.”

STATE SEN. HEATHER STEANS: “I believe the governor’s office has been interjecting themselves and pulling off Republican votes anytime we actually believe we’re going to be gong on the floor for a vote.”

RADIO HOST: “Senate Democrats said that you pulled them (Republicans) away and said don’t vote on this.”

GOV. BRUCE RAUNER: “Well that’s not true. But there’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

SEN. PAMELA ALTHOFF: “I believe that the he (the governor) made his feelings known — that he felt that the 'grand bargain’ did not go far enough for the taxpayer.”

SEN. DON HARMON: “They voted for those bills yesterday, and I would ask the Republican members on the other end of that conversation how they felt. Because whether the governor thinks he and his team threatened them or not, the reports that we’ve gotten from our Republican colleagues are that they were threatened.”

CYNTHIA WORSLEY, FOX VALLEY OLDER ADULT SERVICES: “Well it starts very gradually, ‘We won’t pay them this time, we’ll pay them next time.’ It doesn’t take very long for the IRS to begin contacting you. We are working right now to clear it up. But we won’t really have a handle on it if the state doesn’t get a budget.”

ANDREA DURBIN: PAY NOW ILLINOIS COALITION: "What they're doing is they're banking on — in the most cynical way — they're banking on the fact that we give a damn, and we won't turn our backs on these clients, we won't shove them out into the streets, that we won't lay off our employees — until it's impossible for us to do anything else.”

TV ANCHOR: "Breaking news out of Springfield tonight: The state’s budget crisis is over. After a day of drama, the House voted to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a budget package.”

REP. DAVID HARRIS: “I was not elected to help preside over the financial destruction of this great state.”

REP. TERRI BRYANT: “I hope that you will help me bring my university back to the thriving place that it once was.”

REP. STEVE ANDERSSON: “Hate mail, death threats. It’s been tough. But you know what I reflected on, what I thought about? (It) was the last two-and-a-half years of people suffering because we can;t get past impasse.”

REP. SARA WOJCICKI JIMENEZ: “I think that politicians, on both sides, they have taken some of the messaging to the extreme.”

RAUNER: “This is a two-by-four smacked across the foreheads of the people of Illinois.”

COOK COUNTY BOARD PRESIDENT TONI PRECKWINKLE: “I’ve lived in Chicago for 50 years. In that time Jim Thompson was governor, Jim Edgar, George Ryan. I disagreed with them sometimes, but I never thought that they were unfit for their jobs or evil people. And that’s where I am with this governor, and it’s pretty profoundly disturbing.”

ROBERTA LYNCH, AFSCME: “If the governor tries to impose his unreasonable demands, he risks a strike that would shut down state government.”

RAUNER: “So we’re just kicking off our re-election campaign. I’ll be traveling around the state, going to every one of our 102 counties multiple times over the next year.”

J.B. PRITZKER: “This election isn’t just about beating Bruce Rauner.”

SEN. DANIEL BISS: “Bruce Rauner’s policies have failed, and the state’s worse off as a result.”

CHRIS KENNEDY: “Well there’s definitely a dissatisfaction with the status quo.”

RAUNER: “I am not in charge. I’m trying to get to be in charge.”

REP. JEANNE IVES: “He’s betrayed our party, and you know what? You cannot buy back trust after a betrayal.”

CONGRESSMAN RODNEY DAVIS: “The shooter who hunted down many of us, politics became his religion.”

KATELYND DUNCAN: “One woman described a terrifying encounter where a legislator followed her to a hotel room, pinned her against the wall, and forced himself on her after she said no."

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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