After House Speaker Michael Madigan failed to show up to a Tuesday budget meeting with Gov. Bruce Rauner and other state leaders, the Illinois Republican Party launched a blog attacking his “web of influence” over fellow Democrats.
The “Boss Madigan” website faults the speaker for “45 years of failure” in the Illinois legislature, criticizing him for allegedly wanting to raise taxes without seeking “job-creating economic reforms.”
“Mike Madigan has presided over Illinois’ demise,” the blog reads. “Madigan was first elected to the legislature in 1971. Over nearly five decades, Madigan has pushed destructive policies that caused massive job losses, record income tax hikes, the highest property taxes in the country and the worst state pension crisis in America.”
The blog also slams three Democratic state representatives, Brandon Phelps, Sam Yingling and Jerry Costello, for their loyalty to Rauner. The GOP-hosted site faults the lawmakers for voting alongside Madigan and accepting campaign contributions from the speaker’s “political machine." Madigan currently serves as the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
In response to the attacks, Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said Rauner and the Republicans were trying to divert attention from their agenda.
“It all looks like they’re in disarray right now because their plan for Rauner to have a lame duck tax increase looks like it’s getting derailed,” Brown told Ward Room. “And so I think they decided to roll out this new attack on Madigan as a way to kind of distract people from what looks like is gonna be a big failure by them.”
He explained that Speaker Madigan tried to reschedule Tuesday's leaders meeting for the afternoon, to no avail. Nevertheless, Rauner, Madigan and the state’s other party leaders met Wednesday morning.
"A lot of people fixate on these meetings,” Brown said. “I’m not sure it’s worth the fixation or that the meetings necessarily are terribly productive.”
“A lot of people are reporting this is all about the budget and as these meetings go on, nobody even talks about the budget,” he added.
Instead, Brown claimed leaders were tackling other issues in the meetings, like term limits. Following Wednesday's meeting, Republican leaders faulted Madigan for focusing only on the budget and not reforms.
"As of today, I see no interest on behalf of the speaker to incorporate reforms into finding a way to break the budget impasse and that's very disappointing," House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told reporters.
The state’s stopgap funding compromise expires at the end of the year. Rauner has repeatedly pushed for a full, balanced budget, dismissing the prospect of another short-term fix. If a deal isn’t reached, important state functions, like higher education and social services, would continue to be affected.
Rauner, Madigan and the state's other party leaders will meet again Thursday and Friday. During Wednesday's press conference, Senate Republican leader Christine Radogno addressed her party's attacks against Speaker Madigan.
"Grow up," Radogno told reporters. "This is a job, it's politics, it's rough and tumble. [Madigan] was a little snarky today that I wasn't around or the governor was in Rome. That doesn't help the people of Illinois."
"Let's grow up and deal with the problems," she added.