Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office announced Wednesday that the governor wouldn’t schedule any future leaders meetings until state Democratic leaders are ready to present a budget proposal.
“The Governor and Republican leaders remain ready to negotiate on a balanced budget with reforms to grow jobs, lower property taxes, improve school and implement term limits,” Rauner spokesman Lance Trover said in a statement. “However, Democratic leaders continue to discuss internally whether they are prepared to present a budget proposal, so we will schedule the next Four Leaders meeting when we receive confirmation that they are ready.”
Following Tuesday’s leaders meeting, Rauner’s office issued a statement admonishing House Speaker Michael Madigan for not proposing a budget.
“Today the Speaker refused to put forward a budget proposal and refused to commit to passing any budget whatsoever after December 31st,” Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement. “Republicans will not consider revenue without reform. Only Speaker Madigan has proposed raising the income tax.”
“As the Speaker stalls to force a crisis, we can on the majority to pass term limits and a permanent property tax freeze before any consideration of Speaker Madigan’s stopgap spending plan,” Kelly added.
Madigan's office responded Wednesday, claiming the onus is on Rauner to put forth a budget proposal, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
"We're going to try to examine and try to understand the governor's actions," Madigan spokesman Steve Brown told the paper. "The Democrats have been working tirelessly to deal with the budget issues. Somehow they had it in their heads that we're going to take over some executive action."
"I don't think that's going to happen," Brown added.
Additionally, a spokesman for Senate President John Cullerton said he was "disappointed" in what he hoped would be a "robust discussion on a budget framework," according to the Sun-Times report.
Madigan took shots at Rauner during a Tuesday press conference, accusing the governor of holding the state budget hostage to “help his wealthy friends and corporations.”
After making the claim, Madigan brushed off requests for an explanation. During the press conference, the speaker also pushed to return to working groups, a move Rauner and the Republicans have frequently dismissed, claiming it signals a step in the wrong direction in the negotiating process.
Madigan proposed establishing 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.
“This would be in response to the governor’s request for what he would characterize as a turnaround agenda,” Madigan said. “These are all issues that are pending before the legislature. They’re such that the members of the legislature and those who have become expert in these areas should participate in the discussions, should participate in the decision-making, in terms of trying to move toward an agreement on moving bills that would make all of these changes.”
Madigan claimed House Democrats are “full participants in attempting to resolve those issues.”
Meanwhile, Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno called Tuesday’s meeting “substantive,” noting that the two sides were able to discuss a budget. However, Radogno faulted Democrats for lacking a “sense of urgency,” claiming that Madigan and his staff aren’t worried about passing a budget before the end of the year.
She lauded the working groups’ contributions to budget negotiations, but wouldn’t support them moving forward. House Republican Leader Jim Durkin echoed Radogno’s sentiments, claiming a budget deal can be reached before the end of the year. Now, that seems unlikely.
The next leaders meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday morning. After Rauner’s announcement, it’s unclear when the state’s top leaders will meet next.