During a Facebook Live event Tuesday, Gov. Bruce Rauner claimed House Speaker Michael Madigan and Illinois Democrats are stalling budget negotiations to create a statewide crisis in order to force another stopgap funding compromise without reforms.
“My sense is, they’re delaying, they’re stalling, they’re using tactics to get into January, February and create a crisis, meltdown of our human services and our important social service agencies and then try to force a stopgap plan or a tax hike with no reforms,” Rauner said.
“That would be a tragic failure and a mistake,” he added. “They should be here negotiating a balanced budget with reforms.”
Rauner continued to push for a series of reforms to grow jobs, bring down property taxes, create better schools, and institute term limits on state elected officials. The governor claimed Madigan won’t negotiate with him on those demands.
Last week, Rauner announced that he wouldn’t schedule any future leaders meetings until Madigan and state Democratic leaders are ready to present a budget proposal. A proposal has not been put forth and meetings have yet to resume. The state’s current stopgap spending plan expires at the end of the calendar year, at which point the state's spending authority for important services, like health and human services and higher education, will expire.
“You can’t get an agreement unless both sides want an agreement,” Rauner said. “Speaker Madigan said a year ago that what he wanted to do was raise our income tax back up to at least five percent and go up from there. He’s stopped talking about that and now what he’s pushing is just to do a stopgap, temporary, incomplete budget. And that’s all he wants with no reforms.”
“And that would be a tragedy," he added. "That would be a failure. That will cause a crisis later and a bigger tax hike later and it will force a tax hike without reforms down the road."
Rauner also made it clear Tuesday that he would only consider a stopgap compromise if it includes elements of his turnaround agenda, like a property tax freeze and term limits. He faulted Madigan for allegedly being inaccessible and unwilling to negotiate on reforms.
For his part, Madigan has repeatedly pushed to use the framework from “seven successful budgets” over the past two years.
“Don’t use the word stopgap budget,” Madigan told reporters earlier this month. “The first time that stopgap budget was used was by Governor Rauner at the end of May when he requested the stopgap budget. The word stopgap was never used in the prior six budget-makings."
Madigan took shots at Rauner during a press conference last week, accusing the governor of holding the state budget hostage to “help his wealthy friends and corporations.” However, he refused to expound on the claim after being prompted by reporters. There hasn’t been another leaders meeting since the speaker made the allegation.
During the same press conference, the speaker pushed to reestablish working groups for a series of non-budget issues, including education, pensions, workers’ compensation, local government consolidation and the elimination of mandates on local governments. He also pushed for rank-and-file members of the legislature to aid in the state’s negotiations with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.
The speaker claimed House Democrats are “full participants in attempting to resolve those issues.”
Speaker Madigan’s office did not immediately respond to Ward Room’s request for comment.