Budget Talks Continue in Springfield

The Illinois Senate has scheduled a do-over for some pieces of legislation that are part of the so-called grand bargain budget compromise.

Democrats who control the Senate on Tuesday used a procedure to move bills that have already been approved by the Senate back into position for votes again.

The grand bargain is a package Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been negotiating to break a two-year budget stalemate with GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner. None of the bills goes into effect unless all are approved.

The two sides have been unable to agree on the key issues but have OK'd six measures to expand legalized gambling, consolidate local governments, fund state operations for the current fiscal year that ends June 30, and more.

Democrats wouldn't say why they made the move. Republican Sen. Dave Syverson of Rockford says Democrats might be tweaking language or readying the measures to be approved apart from the grand bargain.

Top Illinois House Democrats are publicly asking Gov. Bruce Rauner why the Republican won't meet with them on state budget matters with just two weeks left in the spring legislative session.

House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie and three other Democrats wrote Rauner last week offering to discuss an agreement on Illinois' first annual budget since 2015.

Currie told reporters Tuesday she's not received a response. She notes that House Democrats are willing to discuss Rauner's demands for workers' compensation restrictions and a property-tax freeze.
"And we have established a variety of economic reforms that we think will help jumpstart the Illinois economy by virtue of making the way our businesses look more attractive to people who want to come and operate their economic activities in the state."

Currie says House democrats are trying to do what they can to fulfill their constitutional responsibility to put together a full-year budget.
"We think it's unconscionable to consider, contemplate a third year without a budget. There are vulnerable populations that aren't covered by court orders and consent decrees. We are willing to meet with the governor. We're willing to consider off-budget items."

But, Governor Rauner says House democrats are trying to distract from the Senate's attempt to reach a compromise budget deal.