After a preliminary budget meeting Tuesday in Springfield, Illinois Republicans accused House Speaker Michael Madigan of “running out the clock” on negotiations.
Madigan told reporters Tuesday that he would meet again with Gov. Bruce Rauner and the state’s other top lawmakers Wednesday. The speaker also explained that he appointed sate Rep. Greg Harris to lead the House Democrats’ new budget negotiating team.
Republicans balked at Madigan’s announcement, claiming it signaled a step in the wrong direction for the ongoing negotiation process. Republican Senate Leader Christine Radogno said she was “confused” by Madigan's appointment, explaining that there was “no agreement that there would be another round of negotiating teams.”
Radogno claimed the prospect was raised at Tuesday’s meeting, but not agreed to.
“It’s time that the leaders do what they need to do, the working groups did what they need to do,” Radogno said. “And we need, as leaders, to get to the table, the five of us, and make the final decisions in order to serve the people of Illinois.”
The GOP leader claimed Madigan’s move to appoint a new lead negotiator would shelter him from responsibility.
“It’s just such an old game, I’m gonna put someone between me and the decision to insulate me from having to take responsibility,” Radogno said.
“This discussion now, about balancing the budget and the reforms that we need to make the budget balanced, needs to be at the leaders level,” she added.
The state’s stopgap funding agreement expires at the end of the year, at which point the state’s spending authority runs out. Republican House Leader Jim Durkin explained Tuesday that GOP leaders were prepared to negotiate a full, balanced budget.
“We are not going to support any more stop gap budgets,” Durkin said.
Durkin pushed for a compromise with Democrats, but noted that elements of Rauner’s pro-business, union-weakening “turnaround agenda” would be on the negotiating table.
“We’re at a tipping point,” Durkin said. “We are willing to work with the Democrats with their priorities, but it’s a two way street. They have to work with us with our priorities. If we can do that, we will get a good product and the governor will sign a budget.”
Nevertheless, it seems the two sides are still far from coming to any sort of agreement. On Tuesday, Madigan stressed his intention to use the framework from “seven successful budgets” to shape the new plan.
In response, Radogno discredited those budgets.
“Those were stopgap, they were inadequate, they were unbalanced,” she said. “Those were not successful budgets and we’re not willing to continue to go down that road.”
A scheduling conflict kept Madigan from meeting with the state's top legislative leaders Monday. After Madigan declined Rauner's invitation, Senate President John Cullerton also pulled out, claiming the meeting would not be productive without his party's leader.
The Illinois General Assembly also reconvened in Springfield Tuesday for a veto session. Another session is scheduled for Wednesday.