Legislative leaders agree they need to come to a budget deal on how to spend the taxpayers’ money nearly seven full months into the fiscal year, but what the priorities are differs.
Governor Bruce Rauner delivered his State of the State address Wednesday where he again laid out his “turnaround agenda” he says will grow the economy and wages for working class families, and freeze property taxes while allowing local governments to control costs.
The governor also provided other areas to tackle this legislative session like primary education funding reform, pension reform and even an effort to do a partial privatization of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
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Senate President John Cullerton issued a statement after the speech saying there are numerous issues where they disagree, but he wanted to focus on the areas of agreement.
“Today, I heard the governor echo my call for making school funding reform a priority and his desire to come up with a system that better recognizes the needs of students living in poverty and those facing other challenges,” Cullerton wrote. “I commend him on that stand.”
Cullerton also commended the governor for addressing pension reform.
Speaker Michael Madigan said there have been some accomplishments in the past year like record K-12 spending, correcting the 2015 fiscal year budget, landmark public safety legislation like body cameras and updates to unemployment insurance. However Madigan said in each instance there weren’t strong demands from the governor.
“These four areas happened,” Madigan said. “There was cooperation. Please note: At no time during the deliberation on these issues did the governor lay down his current demand.”
Leading Republican Senator Christine Radogno said the Speaker is unwilling to address anything that will go against special interests that support Madigan.
“He will not touch any area that may make a positive difference for the vast majority of the people of the state of Illinois,” Radogno said, “if it entails really going to the heart of their constituencies.”
Meanwhile Madigan said “we ought to get busy, sit down, what can we do to solve this budget problem.”
Both Radogno and Leading Republican Representative Jim Durkin said that takes engagement.
“When the Democrat President of the Senate is willing to go out and make public statements and say ‘I’m willing to work with this governor’,” Durkin said, “I’d like to hear more of that from the Speaker.”