Illinois lawmakers left Springfield a month ago fractured, indignant and without a budget. They'll return Wednesday for another try at a compromise. With just days left before the new fiscal year starts July 1, there are signs there's reason to be optimistic.
Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature's four top leaders met fairly often toward the end of May, when they were supposed to have passed a new state budget.
But the meetings were short, often taking less than an hour. And the leaders comments after were often curt.
Compare with Tuesday night, when leaders met for three hours.
After, House Speaker Michael Madigan said he was "optimistic" they can settle a "whole host of problems."
"It appears to me that everybody in the negotiations are negotiating in good faith. There are a lot of proposals on the table. A lot of good ideas," he said.
There are a series of competing proposals for a temporary, six month state budget and a full years' one for schools.
The main dispute appears to be over how much to spend on education; Democrats want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more. That'd help Chicago Public Schools, but Rauner has said he won't go for a CPS bailout. The governor made no comment after the meeting.
Still, after the meeting Senate President John Cullerton said he's "excited" they're "this close" to a deal.
House Republican Leader called the negotiations "healthy" but “fluid” and Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno warned "caution is always in order."
"We're taking a very global perspective of the budget, and we're looking at a lot of things. So again I don't think we want to get into any specific area that's currently under negotiation but we've made progress," Durkin said. None of the leaders offered specifics.
The leaders will meet again early Wednesday morning; session proceedings will begin around 11 a.m.