Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan may not agree on much when it comes to the state budget, but they apparently have mysterious mutual friends who have acted as mediators during secret meetings to help break the long-running budget stalemate.
That’s according to Rauner, who appeared on WBEZ’s Morning Shift on Friday. He didn’t name anyone, but gave a few clues.
“I’ve brought in, actually, good friends of his who are business leaders, community leaders who are also good friends of mine, and had sat them sit, the three of us, (and) have coffee, have lunch,” Rauner said. “I’ve tried about four different very influential, very thoughtful, very talented, very intelligent folks who know the speaker well, who know me well, (and) who know the circumstance in Illinois.”
The meetings obviously didn’t work; the state budget impasse has now lasted 20 months. Rauner and Madigan have not met in two months.
Rauner’s office would not say who the secret mediators are or when the meetings happened.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said friends of Rauner have delivered messages to Madigan on behalf of the governor, but once they got into the details of what Rauner wanted, “they realize how far off the rails he is.”
In response, Rauner spokesman Lance Trover pointed to more recent actions the General Assembly has taken in relation to Rauner’s economic priorities. Last month, the House approved a property tax freeze — although it was not addressed in time for the Senate to take it up. And, he said, Senate leaders have been negotiating over some of Rauner’s proposals, including stricter requirements for injured workers to be compensated if the injury happened on the job.