Day 2 of Special Session: Madigan to Hold Hearings

Day two of the special session in Springfield begins Thursday and House Speaker Michael Madigan will turn to a tactic he’s used before in the budget battle– holding hearings to discuss Gov. Bruce Rauner’s reform proposals.

The House will be called into session at noon with Madigan calling a committee of the whole to take testimony from those impacted by the governor’s push for workmen’s comp reform.

The hearings are expected to continue Friday to discuss a property tax proposal.

"My position is the same position that I've had for two and a half years: if we're going to have a balanced budget, we're going to have to balance cuts and new revenue," Madigan told reporters as the special session began Wednesday.

But after more than two years without a budget in Illinois, critics say the hearings only stall the negotiation process.

The first-term Republican governor and Democrats who control the Legislature have been deadlocked since 2015.

Rauner says he wants pro-business reforms in conjunction with a budget. Democrats say they've approved several of those ideas, but Republicans keep changing their demands. Republicans say Democratic efforts fall short.

If there's no budget by July 1, the state will begin a third consecutive year without a spending plan.

If that happens, credit ratings agencies said they'll downgrade the state's worst-in-the-nation rating to "junk status,” summer road projects across the state will come to halt and thousands will be left unable to work or get paid. 

"We are headed toward an absolute disaster. Illinois is imploding," State Rep. David McSweeney said. 

Lawmakers, however, make $111 a day for each day of the special session, plus mileage to attend, costing taxpayers roughly $40,000 per day.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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