Negotiations between political leaders at the Illinois statehouse are not going well. Gov. Bruce Rauner and legislative leaders have met three times this week ahead of the scheduled end of the Spring legislative session on May 31.
After today’s meeting, House Republican Leader Jim Durkin told reporters that Democrats are motivated more by politics than reaching a deal.
“It’s clear that they want to push things off until after the election,” Durkin said.
But House Speaker Michael Madigan said it’s Republicans who continue to push for policies that are harmful to the middle class.
“I’m not taking extreme positions but I’m not going to agree to try to use the government to drive down wages and the standard of living,” Madigan said. “I’m not going to agree to that.”
House Democrats passed a spending plan earlier this week that funds education and social services, but is also $7 billion out of balance. Madigan justified the spending plan by saying it would at least release state money that has been in question as lawmakers face the real possibility of completing a full fiscal year without approving a full state budget.
“Let’s be very clear. We passed a budget plan that does not hold hostages,” Madigan said.
That budget plan was approved with the bare minimum of votes from House Democrats and is now in doubt in the Senate.
Rauner’s administration has said he would veto it.
Meanwhile, Rauner has been watching his words lately and continues to sound optimistic about reaching a grand compromise before the end of the month.
“We’ll never give up. We gotta stay persistent,” Rauner said.
He encouraged rank-and-file lawmakers to continue working on a compromise in private, even as the leaders continued to criticize the other side in public.
Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics. Follow him @tonyjarnold.