Illinois Lawmakers Work on Memorial Day as Budget Deadline Looms

One lobbyist wore shorts and flip-flops in silent protest for having to work on the Memorial Day holiday.

Illinois lawmakers expressed frustration Monday as the deadline approaches to submit a budget plan.

The state’s historic budget impasse dates back to last June when the Illinois House adjourned the 2015 spring session without making a budget deal. If a budget isn't agreed upon by the end of the month, it will mark the second missed deadline since Gov. Bruce Rauner was elected.  

One lobbyist wore shorts and flip-flops in silent protest for having to work on the Memorial Day holiday. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle said they want a budget deal but continue to pass around blame.

"We're spending about $36 billion," State Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington) said. "We have revenue of about $33 billion, so we need to cut a little over $3 billion in spending."

"Our goal is to make sure we send something to the governor that we believe has been worked on by both Democrats and Republicans and that he will sign," State Rep. Lashawn Ford (D-Chicago) said.

The war between Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan is about to enter its second year. The House already approved a budget that was $7 billion out of balance, and Rauner said he would veto it.

Park Ridge Democrat Elaine Nekritz was one of the few "no" votes.  

"We don't have a consensus as to how to move forward right now on a full revenue package and whatever kind of reform we might be doing," Nekritz said.

It isn't just a budget they can't reach. State Rep. Mike Zalewski's attempt to regulate the fantasy sports gambling industry hit a road block when a lawmaker accused a lobbyist for Fan Duel and Draft Kings of suggesting an alleged bribe.

"I had nothing to do with any of that," Zalewski said. "I worked on the policy, i acted with integrity, I'll let the situation sort itself out."

Two of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's key aides were in Springfield in person as the Illinois Senate overrode the governor's veto of the police and fire pension bill.

In the final hours, there are closed door party meetings, but some say compromise still feels hard to come by.

"I hear that clock ticking," State Rep. David Harris (R-Arlington Heights) said, "and to do something as significant as put together a revenue package tied with all the elements of the Turnaround Agenda in the next day and a half is a huge lift."

The governor has met with the top legislative leaders each day for the past week. Depending on who you speak with, the tone of the meetings has varied from fiery to productive.

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