Budget Negotiations Stalled as Rauner, Madigan Remain Divided

The state’s current stopgap funding compromise expires at the end of the year

Despite meeting Tuesday for budget negotiations, a compromise remains elusive as Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan continue to spar over the terms of a deal.

Following the meeting, Madigan called for a vote on Republican Rep. David McSweeney's resolution opposing a "Rauner lame duck tax increase." The non-binding resolution ultimately passed the House Wednesday with overwhelming support, likely ending any chance of a vote on an income tax hike during next month's lame duck session.

Madigan also continued to champion the budget format used on “seven successful occasions over the last two years."

In response to Madigan’s insistence on a short-term budget, Rauner reportedly made it clear Wednesday that he would only consider a stopgap if the legislature first approves elements of his “turnaround agenda,” like term limits and a permanent property tax freeze, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Madigan missed Tuesday's leaders meeting due to a scheduling conflict. Shortly thereafter, the Illinois Republican Party launched a blog slamming the powerful speaker.

In response to the criticism, Madigan claimed he had been “available” earlier this month when Gov. Bruce Rauner and Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno were unable to meet. However, he didn’t respond to a question about the Illinois Republican Party’s “Boss Madigan" website.

Shortly after Madigan spoke to the press, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin claimed progress on a budget deal had all but stalled, faulting Madigan for not considering reforms, like workers compensation and pension reform.

“Unfortunately, the speaker’s not interested in working on any reforms with Republicans and that is very disappointing,” Durkin said. “Reforms is something that we’ve been working on, his members have been working, for the past two years with working groups and, 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.”

State Rep. Greg Harris, who was appointed by Madigan earlier this month to lead the House Democrats’ new budget negotiating team, told reporters Wednesday that he sent a letter to the three other caucuses recommending that the working groups be reconstituted to update their budget recommendations.

“An interesting inconsistency that I found is that while [Madigan] wants to go back to working groups, the fact of the matter is, the working groups did do some good work last year,” Radogno said. “Yes, it does need to be updated, but those working group discussions on the budget presuppose that we would have reforms.”

“The speaker again is saying he wants to do what he’s done for seven times already, which is an unbalanced, putting-the-fire-out kind of a budget rather than returning our state to long-term financial health,” she added.

The state’s current 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. The governor will continue meeting with party leaders through the end of the week. 

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