The ice has been broken. The four legislative leaders in the Illinois General Assembly spent a little more than an hour in the governor's office.
House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said it was a first for him: “I've been in this position for a year and a half, and this is the first time I've had a meeting of four leaders with the governor.”
All four leaders recognized it's early in the process of determining just what must be done to fix Illinois' financial condition. Gov. Bruce Rauner delivers his budget message Feb. 18, and Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) quipped that perhaps Rauner will even share it with the lawmakers in advance.
“The Republicans haven't voted for a budget in the six years that I've been the Senate president; now they're going to have to,” added Cullerton. “Whatever (Rauner) has got to tell (Republican lawmakers) – if he wants to blame it on the past Democrats who were in charge, that's fine with me. Whatever it takes to get his members to participate in the budget process, let him do it.”
Rauner is the first Republican governor of Illinois in 12 years, while Democrats retain supermajorities in the House and Senate.