Rauner and legislative leaders meet publicly, privately

By Gary Scott on December 2, 2015 at 8:18am

Photo from WICS-TV

For the first time in nearly seven months, the Governor and four legislative leaders sat in the same room and talked about the budget on Tuesday.

As the four legislative leaders and the governor met today to talk both in public and private about the lack of a state budget House Minority Leader Jim Durkin says that the state is in the financial shape it’s in because of more than a decade of Democratic leadership.

“Every tax and fee increase for twelve years is Democrat-proposed, Democrat-passed, Democrat-signed. This did not protect the middle class. Every unbalanced budget for twelve years was Democrat-proposed, Democrat-passed, and Democrat-signed. This did not protect the middle class,” said Durkin.

Senate President John Cullerton took issue with Durkin and his tone during the public portion of the meeting. Cullerton says Durkin’s tactic hurts the process of finding compromise.

“Speeches like that, I totally disagree with most of what you just said, [are] not helpful in the negotiating process, OK? I can’t speak for the last twelve years, I’ve been the Senate president for seven and a half. We’ve made great progress together. Before you were the leader, we did a capital bill together ten weeks after Senator Radogno and I got elected, where Republican voted for taxes too,” said Cullerton.

Democrat leaders have tried to paint the Governor’s Turnaround Agenda as extreme. House Speaker Mike Madigan says that the Governor sent lawmakers a budget full of cuts in the spring. Madigan says that Democrats couldn’t vote for it.

“The governor filed a cuts-only budget. It was not balanced. It would have cut medical care services for the elderly, the disabled, and struggling families. It did more harm than good. I strongly believe that we have to have a balanced approach,” Madigan said.

Rauner says his plans to help create jobs and balance the budget are in line with what other governments have done.

“Mr. Speaker, I respectfully disagree that any of our ideas are extreme. Every idea we’re proposing has been done by other states to quite successful results, has been done by the federal government in their management process,” Rauner said.

Rauner still wants to focus strongly on three elements of his Turn Around Agenda: term limits, redistricting and property tax reform.

Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno equated the State of Illinois and City of Chicago as patients that have a “rampant systemic infection.”

“Do we put a band-aid or two and take care of the symptoms, or do we treat the root cause?” questioned Radogno.

Illinois has been without an operating budget since the beginning of July.

The public portion of the governor and leaders budget meeting lasted just longer than a half an hour. The governor and legislative leaders continued their meeting in private following the public portion.

You can listen to the full remarks from the officials you’ve heard from in this story below.